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[uh-lit-uh-rey-shuh n] /əˌlɪt əˈreɪ ʃən/
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.
Compare consonance (def 4a).
the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter, as in apt alliteration's artful aid.
Origin of alliteration
1650-60; < Medieval Latin alliterātiōn-, stem of alliterātiō, equivalent to al- al- + literātiō, modeled after obliterātiō obliteration but intended to convey a derivative of littera letter Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for alliteration
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Nikita, surnamed Necator, with a sinister aptness of alliteration!

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • The "Cape to Cairo" railroad is another case of alliteration.


    William Graham Sumner
  • alliteration and rhyme together will, I am afraid, be too much for me.

    Lavengro George Borrow
  • The alliteration is without complexity,--a dreary procession of sibilants.


    Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh
  • Consonance is very similar to this latter form of alliteration.

  • alliteration is nearly the only effect of that kind which the ancients had in common with us.

  • English poetry has used chiefly rhyme, stress, and alliteration.

  • alliteration in relation to the parts of speech and to the order the order of words.

British Dictionary definitions for alliteration


the use of the same consonant (consonantal alliteration) or of a vowel, not necessarily the same vowel (vocalic alliteration), at the beginning of each word or each stressed syllable in a line of verse, as in around the rock the ragged rascal ran
Derived Forms
alliterative, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin alliterātiō (from Latin al- (see ad-) + litera letter), on the model of obliterātiōobliteration
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alliteration

1650s, "a begining with the same letter," from Modern Latin alliterationem (nominative alliteratio), noun of action from past participle stem of alliterare "to begin with the same letter," from Latin ad- "to" (see ad-) + littera (also litera) "letter, script" (see letter). Formed on model of obliteration, etc. Related: Alliterational.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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alliteration in Culture
alliteration [(uh-lit-uh-ray-shuhn)]

The repetition of the beginning sounds of words, as in “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” “long-lived,” “short shrift,” and “the fickle finger of fate.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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