Alliteration: Definition and Examples from Literature Image

You might have noticed alliteration in the names of some of your favorite characters (from Peter Parker to Lois Lane) or even your favorite stores, like Best Buy or Bed Bath & Beyond.

But while alliteration can make names sound more fun and easier to remember, it’s also a handy tool to use in your writing.

What is Alliteration?

Alliteration is a literary device in which a series of words start with the same consonant sound to create a rhythmic repetition.

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” is a classic example of alliteration.

The device is often used in tongue twisters, poetry, and other prose to create emphasis and effect.

Note that only the same consonant sound must be repeated—not necessarily the same letter—in order to achieve alliteration.

For example:

Kim carefully cut the cookies after they cooled.

Kim and carefully both start with the same consonant sound (‘k’ or hard ‘c’), so this is still an example of alliteration, even if different letters are used.

Purpose of Alliteration

Alliteration creates a musical effect that is particularly useful in poetry, as it makes both reading and reciting easier, while also creating a nice flow.

In marketing, alliteration is often used in advertisements or brand names, since such phrases are easy for customers to remember.

Some examples include:

  • Coca Cola
  • Lulu Lemon
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • PayPal
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Merry Maids
  • Best Buy
  • Weight Watchers

In literature, alliteration is usually used to draw emphasis on a certain sentence or idea. However, note that too much of it can make your writing seem juvenile or too playful, so try to use it only when it serves a purpose.

Examples of Alliteration in Sentences

In addition to the products mentioned above, there are many examples of alliteration that can be found in tongue twisters, songs, or popular sayings.

The boy was as busy as a bee.

The lazy lion licked his lips.

She sells seashells by the seashore.

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.”

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Examples of Alliteration in Literature

Many authors and poets have used alliteration in their works to highlight an idea or theme.

From “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

The fair breeze blew,
The white foam flew,
And the furrow followed free.
We were the first to ever burst into the silent sea.

Each line of this excerpt uses a different letter to achieve alliteration, which helps to create more vivid imagery.

From “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou:

Up the aisle, the moans and screams merged with the sickening smell of woolen black clothes worn in summer weather and green leaves wilting over yellow flowers.

Here, the alliteration is a bit more subtle, but the effect is the same. We can notice the repetition of ‘w’ and ‘s’ even if they are surrounded by non-alliterative words.

From Macbeth by William Shakespeare:

Fair is foul and foul is fair.

Hover through the fog and filthy air.

In this example, alliteration is used to highlight a grimy environment through words like “foul,” “fog,” and “filthy.”

From The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Through the repetition of the ‘b’ sound, this example of alliteration maintains the image of something being beaten back when read aloud.

Alliteration and Assonance

Alliteration is just one literary device that you can use to add emphasis to your poetry or prose.

Learn how you can also use assonance—the repetition of internal vowel sounds—to enhance your writing.

What are your favorite fun examples of alliteration? Feel free to share them in the comments below!


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