Improving Writing – Technical Terms

We expect pupils to be able to use some terminology when writing about texts, fiction and non-fiction, increasingly so as they move through the key stages.  To help you support their learning this list glosses some of the key terms we use; the ones underlined are those that are most frequently used:


Allegory: meaning is represented symbolically

Alliteration: the repetition of (often) initial letters in words next to or near each other

Ambiguity: open to interpretation of its meaning

Antithesis: counterargument

Colloquialisms: popular words and phrases used in everyday conversation

Couplets: pairs of lines that rhyme

Dialect: language with its own distinctive accent, grammar and vocabulary

Hyperbole: exaggeration

Imagery: descriptive language used to create a particular picture, feeling or mood in the reader’s imagination

Internal rhyme: rhyming words within a line/sentence

Juxtaposition: literally ‘position next to’.  Two ideas (often contrasting) are placed together to emphasise difference

Metaphor: an image that describes something as though it were something else

Metre/rhythm: regularity of beat or rhythm in a poem sometimes established by stressing the same number of syllables in each line

Mood: the atmosphere and feelings that the writing evokes

Narrator/speaker: not always voicing opinions of writer – may be given specific persona

Onomatopoeia: sound of words echo what it describes or means

Oxymoron: a phrase in which two seemingly contradictory terms are placed together

Paradox: phrase/statement that seems self-contradictory/impossible

Pathetic fallacy: when natural forces/objects mirror the mood, atmosphere and emotions of the text or characters

Personification: an inanimate object, animal or abstract idea is given human qualities

Pun: play on words

Simile: the direct comparison of one thing with another using ‘like’ or ‘as’

Sonnet: poem of 14 lines

Stanza: group of lines

Tautology: Two phrases/words in succession that have the same meaning: [They all agreed][unanimously]

Tone: the attitude of the poem, e.g. serious, humorous, mischievous or sarcastic

Voice: perspective: helps suggest mood, attitude and purpose