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Close rhyme

A close rhyme consists of two rhyming words that are consecutive or very close together in a phrase or line. Many common expressions are close rhymed---for example, wear and tear, high and dry, double trouble, clip-clop, mumbo jumbo. Here are a few examples of close rhyme in poetry: tingling strings clouds strew flowers round listener, who listens … [Read more...]

Bard

In Medieval Britain and Ireland, a bard was a professional poet who praised (and sometimes satirized) the ruler of the land. Both the word and the profession have origins in Celtic Europe. Traditionally, Welsh and Irish bards treated poetry as a craft to be learned and mastered. Young poets were sometimes apprenticed to experienced bards, and there were bardic schools where students were extensively trained in the knowledge and skills of the craft. The bardic revival of the 18th and 19th … [Read more...]

Acephalous

The poetry term acephalous comes from the Greek a-, "without," and kephale, "head"---hence "without head." The word also comes up in biology to denote animals without heads---for example, "acephalous worms." In poetry, a line of verse is acephalous when it's missing an initial syllable suggested by the poem's meter. This is also known as a headless line. For example, these lines are from A.E. Housman's "To an Athlete Dying Young," which has an 8-syllable, 4-accent metrical scheme: Man … [Read more...]

Abecedarius

An abecedarius is a poem in which each line or stanza begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. Though in modern societies abecedarii are usually thought of as childish, there is a long history of quite serious abecedarian poetry, including several biblical Psalms (in Hebrew). There are also examples in Classical and Hellenistic Greek, Medieval Latin (St. Augustine), Byzantine Greek, and Middle English (Chaucer). To conceive of how this type of form had significance, we can liken it to … [Read more...]

Quick entries: W, X, Y, Z

Note: Many of the entries here will eventually become full-length posts. Some are rough and have not been fully researched. If you have any corrections or would like to add anything, please comment. Wait for the other shoe to drop: to wait for something to happen, especially an event precipitated by someone one has done earlier. Water under the bridge: something that is unimportant and worth forgetting or forgiving. Ways: informally, sometimes a singular noun meaning way or a long … [Read more...]

Quick entries: U-V

Note: Many of the entries here will eventually become full-length posts. Some are rough and have not been fully researched. If you have any corrections or would like to add anything, please comment. Udder vs. utter: Udder: a baglike mammary organ that secretes milk, characteristic of cows and other mammals. Utter: to say. (Take) umbrage: take offense. Underlie vs. underline (metaphorical senses): To underlie is to serve as the basis of something. To underline is to emphasize or … [Read more...]

Quick entries: T

Note: Many of the entries here will eventually become full-length posts. Some are rough and have not been fully researched. If you have any corrections or would like to add anything, please comment. Tabula rasa: Latin for blank slate. In English, it refers to (1) a mind without preconceived notions, or (2) a fresh start at something. Take a shine to: to begin to like. Take aback: to surprise or disconcert. Take down vs. takedown: Take down is a verb phrase (e.g., Please take down … [Read more...]

Quick entries: S

Note: Many of the entries here will eventually become full-length posts. Some are rough and have not been fully researched. If you have any corrections or would like to add anything, please comment. Salience: Saliency is far less common and has no meanings of its own. Sanction: an antagonym, meaning it has contradictory definitions---(1) to encourage or tolerate, and (2) to penalize. Of course, the word has several other definitions. Sang vs. sung: Sang has not gained ground as the … [Read more...]

Quick entries: R

Note: Many of the entries here will eventually become full-length posts. Some are rough and have not been fully researched. If you have any corrections or would like to add anything, please comment. Radios: not radioes. Rainwater: The one-word spelling is accepted, but it is commonly spelled rain water. Rancor vs. rancour: rancor in American English; rancour everywhere else. Randomise vs. randomize: In the U.S. and Canada, it's randomize, randomized, randomizing, randomization, etc. … [Read more...]

Quick entries: P-Q

Note: Many of the entries here will eventually become full-length posts. Some are rough and have not been fully researched. If you have any corrections or would like to add anything, please comment. Paediatrics vs. pediatrics: pediatrics in North America; paediatrics outside North America. The spelling distinction extends to all derivative words. Paid vs. paying: A paying customer is a customer who has paid. A paid customer is bad for business. Paraphernalia: personal belongings or … [Read more...]

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