Are you looking for high-powered vocabulary words to take your literary analysis to the next level? Pop these terms into your next English Language Arts class, and you’ll make your teacher happy, and your class gape in awe.
I’ve been an ELA teacher for 17 years and can vouch for the wonder of these words. Every one of the literary terms, devices, and elements below is highly useful in discussing texts, film — and even life. Click through to see each full lesson, use them with love, and enjoy!
Literary Devices and Terms List
Looking for the most useful and interesting literary devices and terms (with definitions and examples) for English Language Arts (ELA) learning? Here you go!
What does it mean to "juxtapose" or use juxtaposition? It's all about contrasting two things next to each other. Click to see which this is so exciting and powerful, both in literature and in everyday situations.
Rather than saying something literally (meaning exactly what the words say), try spicing up your writing -- and understanding how others add poetic flair to their words -- through figurative language like simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, and more! See examples here.
The term "context" refers to what surrounds something: the time, place, situation, etc. and it is essential to understand when doing literary analysis or looking at art. See examples illustrated here to better understand this key concept, including immediate vs. broader context meaning.
The literary terms "tone" and "mood" are frequently confused. They're similar, but have a key difference. "Tone" refers to how a person or author is speaking (focusing on how THEY are feeling), while "Mood" is about the effect of the piece on the reader or viewer (YOU). See more here.
Figurative language time! The name for "sound effect words" like "POP! BANG! WOOF!" is "Onomatopoeia." See more examples of this delightful literary device here, along with tips on how to pronounce and spell the challenging word.
Life and literature are filled with liminal spaces: the in-between time or place when one state of being has ended but the next has not yet begun. Read an in-depth analysis of this useful vocabulary word and concept here.
One of the most important concepts in learning and life is how to use metacognitive strategies: thinking about our thinking in order to see what tactics are working, and which need to be altered or attempted. Read a powerful example here, along with instructions for how to implement this in your life.
Which Literary Terms and Devices are YOUR Faves?
Looking through this list of literary terms and devices, which do you most enjoy? As you can see, this vocabulary glossary is just a start, so let me know which other wonderful ELA words you’d like to see illustrated and explained. Do share!
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other two sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009) and TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010). Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!