Mr. A's Glossary

This glossary contains definitions for words used throughout the website.  If you have a suggestion of a word that should be included here, please e-mail me at

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A word formed from the initial letter or letters of each word in a set of words.


  • NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • radar - RAdio Detecting and Ranging
  • NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • scuba - self contained underwater breating apparatus
• From Greek akros (=point, tip).


A metaphorical narrative in prose or verse in which fictional figures and actions usually represent truths or generalizations about human existence.


The repetition of of initial vowels or consonants at the beginning of words (e.g., winter wind, slurp and soul, or omit and open.


a reference to a famous person, place, event, or work of literature. 

alphabetic principle

The assumption underlying alphabetic writing systems that each speech sound or phoneme of a language has its own distinctive graphic representation.


Statements or arguments used in a work that may have more than one meaning or interpretation.






A method of explaining something unfamiliar by using a comparison of similar, more familiar things; a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects (e.g., part to whole, synonym and antonym, degree or cause and effect).


a three-syllable foot with the stress on the third.


A brief narrative of an interesting, unusual or biographical event often used to illustrate a point.


The character (or force) that opposes the protagonist.


A word opposite in meaning to another word


  • good and bad
  • fast and slow
  • elated and melancholy
From Greek anti (=against)



appeal to authority

To call upon an individual or other source as an expert to give credence to an argument made by an author of a work.

appeal to emotion

When a speaker or writer builds an argument using expressive language or other devices instead of presenting evidence; a fallacy in arguments

appeal to reason

To call upon a reader's ability to think in a rational way in order to cause a change in his or her thoughts.


A person's name that matches it's owner's occupation or character very well (either in fiction or reality)

  • arctic explorer Will Snow
  • hairdresser Dan Druff
• From apt (=suitable); coined by Franklin P. Adams.


The close repetition of middle vowel sounds (e.g., stony and holy).


A word that can take two (or more) opposite meanings;

  • fast means "moving quickly" or "fixed firmly in place"
  • overlook means "to watch over carefully" or "to fail to notice"
• From Greek auto (=self) + anti (=against).
• Often hyphenated as auto-antonym.


1. A word that describes itself
  • noun is a noun
  • polysyllabic is polysyllabic
  • abbrv. is an abbreviation
  • word is a word.
2. A person's real name; the opposite of pseudonym.

3. A name by which a social group or race refers to itself.

•From Greek auto (=self).



The reverse of producing an acronym; taking a word which already exists and creating a phrase (usually humorous) using the letters of the word as initials

  • Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody (BANANA)
  • Guaranteed Overnight Delivery (GOD).
• From back(wards) + acronym.

bait and switch

A tactic in which a customer is attracted by the advertisement of a low-priced item but is then encouraged to buy a higher-priced one.


a quatrain alternating iambic tetrameter in lines one and three with iambic trimeter in lines two and four. The rhyme scheme of a ballad is abcb.


A fallacy in which one is attracted to a popular party, faction or cause that attracts growing support; following the crowd rather than using evidence to justify a conclusion.


An inclination of temperament or outlook; a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment.


To combine the sounds represented by two or more letters to pronounce a word such as /gr/ in grow; to combine two or more words


A prewriting technique in which students, either alone or in groups, jot down all words or phrases that come to mind on a topic to expand the range of available ideas, to solve a problem or to clarify a concept.



a natural break or pause in a line of poetry, usually near the middle of the line, usually marked by punctuation.


A word which changes its meaning and pronunciation when capitalized

  • polish and Polish
  • august and August
  • concord and Concord
• From capital letter

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