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Stylistic devices: alliteration


Alliteration

What is an alliteration?

Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words.

Alliteration draws attention to the phrase and is often used for emphasis.The initial consonant sound is usually repeated in two neighboring words although sometimes the repetition occurs also in words that are not neighbors.

Examples:

  • sweet smell of success,
  • a dime a dozen,
  • bigger and better,
  • jump for joy
  • share a continent but not a country

Here is an example of alliteration in a poem by Wordsworth:

And sings a solitary song That whistles in the wind.

Remember

1. Only the repetition of the same sound is valid in an alliteration not the consonants themselves.

Examples:

  • keen camarad.
  • philosophy fan.
  • A neat knot need not be re-knotted.

Although they start with different consonants, they constitute perfect instances of alliteration;

2. By contrast, if neighboring words start with the same consonant but have a different initial sound, the words are not alliterated.

Examples:

  • a cute child
  • highly honored (pay attention to the ‘h’ in honored; it is silent)

Although they start with the same consonants, they are not instances of alliteration since the sounds differ.