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Alliteration

Alliteration is a stylistic device, or literary technique, in which successive words (more strictly, stressed syllables) begin with the same consonant sound or letter. Alliteration is a frequent tool in poetry but it is also common in prose, particularly to highlight short phrases. Especially in poetry, it contributes to euphony of the passage, lending it a musical air. It may act to humorous effect. Related to alliteration are assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds, and consonance, the repetition of consonant sounds.

Alliterative verse in one form or another is shared by all of the Germanic languages. In the English language, alliteration occurs in Old English poetry, of which it was a central component. In the Romantic era, it was once more given attention: the Romantics were generally interested in making poetry more musical, and in the ancient heritage of their native languages. (cf. also Alliterative verse and Stabreim)

Contents

1 Examples
1.1 Literary examples
1.2 Common examples
2 See also

Examples

Examples of alliteration include well-known tongue-twisters such as "Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran" and "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."

Examples of consonance include "Sparkling...Flavorful...Miller High Life" (advertising slogan for Miller beer).

Literary examples

There are a great many literary examples of alliteration where the technique is used to great effect. A good example of this occurs in Act 1 Scene Two of Henry V by William Shakespeare:

And tell the pleasant Prince this mock of his / Hath turned his balls to gun stones

Here the alliterative use of the letter 'p' emphasises Henry's sarcasm.

Common examples

Like rhyme, alliteration is a great help to memory: it is 'catchy', and frequently used in news headlines, corporate names, literary titles, advertising, buzzwords, and nursery rhymes.

Amber Alert, baby boom, back to basics, balance the books, Beavis and Butt-Head, Big Ben, boom or bust, Coca-Cola, do or die, green as grass, hale, and hearty, Heerlijk Helder Heineken, Making magic, McDonald's Massacre, Monday morning, the more the merrier, kill the king, pay the price, peer-to -peer, poor but proud, live the life, swim or sink, Super Sonic, Surround Sound, it takes two to tango, Tiny Tim, watchful waiting

Occasionally parents and authors use alliteration in the naming of their children and characters: Donald Duck, King Kong, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Woody Woodpecker.

See also