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Alliteration- Examples and Usage

Alliteration- Gets your words rolled, do you know what it is called? 

Let’s explain it to you in detail.

All about Alliteration

Alliteration is derived from Latin’s “Latira”, meaning “letters of the alphabet”. The literary device refers to the repetition of the same initial letter in successive words. It is done for effect. Better put, it is a term to describe a literary device in which a series of words begin with the same consonant sound. It is meant to be more than a tongue twister, though. It is used to signify something important that a writer or speaker would like to express.

Alliteration- Meaning, Examples and Usage | English Medium

To form alliteration, we need two or more words that have the same starting consonant sound. It’s important to focus on the sound rather than the letter because it is the sound that catches the audience’s attention.

Other words for alliteration include ‘head rhyme,’ ‘initial rhyme,’ and ‘front rhyme.’ It is used as a stylistic device, in both spoken and written languages as a string of words and phrases that repeats the same letter or letter combinations. 

Some classic Examples

  • But a better butter makes a batter better.
  • A big bully beats a baby boy.

In these examples, both the sentences are alliterative because the first letter ‘b’ of words is the same and it occurs close together, thereby producing alliteration in the sentence. An important point to note and remember here is that alliteration does not depend on the letters but on the sounds. So, the phrase ‘not knotty’ is alliterative whereas ‘cigarette chase’ is not.

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

In this example, the initial ‘p’ sound creates the alliteration and is internally repetitive on the letters ‘p’ and ‘ck’.  But it isn’t the specific letter that makes a phrase alliterative, it is the sound- so, you could say that the alliterative function of Peter and his peppers includes the ‘p_k’ and ‘p_p’ sounds.

  • She sells seashells by the sea-shore.

In this example, the initial, ‘s_h’ sound creates the alliteration. And is repetitive on all others! This makes the pronunciation difficult and hence, sounds more like a tongue- twister.

  • I have heard how hedgehogs hog the hedge.

In this example, the ‘h’ of have followed by the words, heard, how hedgehogs, hog, and then hedge sounds create the alliteration. Here too, the pronunciation point comes into picture which becomes quite difficult when spoken in a go. 

Reasons to study Alliteration

Alliterations are used in all spoken and written languages. They are used to emphasize on a sentence or to make it more pleasing to the ear. Most commonly they are a part of poetry, business writings, and literature. We’ve sorted for you, the reasons to study alliteration-

  • Grab your audience’s attention

This literary device can be a useful technique for poets and songwriters as it focuses their audience’s attention on the alliterative words. Typically, alliteration is used to create a mood or rhythm. Often, the effect suggests an additional meaning. For example, repeating an “s” sound suggests snake-like stealth, and repeating a “b” sound can beget a banging base beat.

  • Use alliteration for emphasis

Used sparingly in business writing (e.g., once in a document), alliteration can:

  • Be used for emphasis
  • Be memorable
  • Make an impact
  • Make you look confident

Here is an example of how alliteration might look in a business document-

The second proposed solution was commercially astute, cost-effective, and convincing.

  • Don’t overuse alliteration

While alliteration can be a great way to make your sentences catchy and memorable, overusing it will make your work sound childish. Unless your primary audience is children, use this technique sparingly to ensure it remains impactful.

Learn more about such literary devices here.

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1 thought on “Alliteration- Examples and Usage

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