/euh lit'euh ray"sheuhn/, n.1. the commencement of two or more stressed syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound or sound group (consonantal alliteration), as in from stem to stern, or with a vowel sound that may differ from syllable to syllable (vocalic alliteration), as in each to all. Cf. consonance (def. 4a).2. the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter, as in apt alliteration's artful aid.[1650-60; < ML alliteration-, s. of alliteratio, equiv. to al- AL- + literatio, modeled after obliteratio OBLITERATION but intended to convey a deriv. of littera letter]
* * *or head rhymeRepetition of consonant sounds in two or more neighbouring words or syllables.A frequently used poetic device, it is often discussed with assonance (the repetition of stressed vowel sounds within two or more words with different end consonants) and consonance (the repetition of end or medial consonants).
* * *in prosody, the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words or stressed syllables. Sometimes the repetition of initial vowel sounds (head rhyme) is also referred to as alliteration. As a poetic device, it is often discussed with assonance and consonance. In languages (such as Chinese) that emphasize tonality, the use of alliteration is rare or absent.Alliteration is found in many common phrases, such as “pretty as a picture” and “dead as a doornail,” and is a common poetic device in almost all languages. In its simplest form, it reinforces one or two consonantal sounds, as in William Shakespeare's line:When I do count the clock that tells the time(Sonnet XII)A more complex pattern of alliteration is created when consonants both at the beginning of words and at the beginning of stressed syllables within words are repeated, as in Percy Bysshe Shelley's line:The City's voice itself is soft like Solitude's(“Stanzas Written inDejection Near Naples”)Though alliteration is now a subsidiary embellishment in both prose and poetry, it was a formal structural principle in ancient Germanic verse. See alliterative verse. Compare assonance; consonance.
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