Origin of alliteration
Words nearby alliteration
MORE ABOUT ALLITERATION
What is alliteration?
Alliteration is the repetition of the same or a similar sound at or near the beginning of each word in a series.
The tongue twister Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers is a classic example of alliteration. The sentence uses the same consonant (the letter p) at the beginning of each main word to create alliteration. This specific kind of alliteration is called consonantal alliteration. Sometimes, this kind of alliteration can involve the repetition of not a single letter but the same letter combination, such as tr, as in Trip truly tricked Tracy.
Alliteration that uses vowels or vowel sounds instead of consonants is known as vocalic alliteration. An example is Every editor expects excellence. But the vowel sounds don’t necessarily have to be created by the same letter. And even if different vowel sounds are used, the effect is still considered alliteration, as in Ed’s advice is always unexpected.
The adjective form of alliteration is alliterative, which is used to describe things that use or are examples of alliteration, as in Marilyn Monroe is an alliterative name.
Alliteration is fun and it’s pleasant to hear. It’s typically used to call attention to a specific phrase or sentence or make it more interesting or memorable, such as in a story, a brand name, or advertising.
Why is alliteration important?
Alliteration is perhaps second only to rhyming in popular ways to have fun with words by stringing similar-sounding ones together. Use of the word alliteration dates back to the 1600s. Its ultimate root is the Latin word littera, meaning “letter” (as in a letter of the alphabet).
Though it often depends on the repetition of the same letter, alliteration is really about repeating the same sound at the start of a stressed syllable at or near the beginning of a word. Skillful use of alliteration can make words sound melodic or almost musical. A writer might do this just for fun, but many times it’s done to to play up a particular passage—to draw the reader’s attention to it for some reason. Overuse of alliteration can sometimes sound silly, especially since alliteration is associated with its use in nursery rhymes and tongue twisters like She sells seashells by the sea shore.
Probably because it makes them more memorable, cartoon and comics characters are often given alliterative names: Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Betty Boop, Spongebob Squarepants, Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and Wonder Woman are just a few of the many examples.
Alliteration is also common in brand names (Coca-Cola), stage names (Big Boi), band names (Foo Fighters), real names (Kourtney, Kim, and Khloé Kardashian), books (Pride and Prejudice), movies (The Fast and the Furious), TV shows (Breaking Bad), musical albums (Magical Mystery Tour), and many other things.
Did you know ... ?
Alliteration isn’t the only way that similar sounds are used to make patterns with a series of words. In poetry, consonance involves the repetition of consonants and consonant sounds, especially at the ends of words, as in sweet silent thought. Assonance, also called a vowel rhyme, involves the use of the same vowel sound with different consonants, as in time and light, or the same consonant with different vowels, as in mystery and mastery.
What are real-life examples of alliteration?
This video shows a scene from the film V for Vendetta that uses an extreme example of alliteration to create a memorable scene and character:
People love alliteration because it’s fun.
I absolutely adore alliteration. Many mouthfuls of messy machinations make me mighty merry. Some soulless saps speak slights against such silly sentences, shaming the structure with sardonic sarcasm. Woe to these whingeing rapscallions, with their whines and wordy wrath.
— Snickelsox🐝 (@snickelsox) August 9, 2020
I always adore alliteration
— PM (@Himynameispetah) August 2, 2020
True or False?
Alliteration must involve the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of a word.
How to use alliteration in a sentence
But if you can get past the predilection for alliteration and the teehee!Why We Worship Derek Jeter (Even If He Kinda Sucks at Shortstop)|Robert Silverman|February 13, 2014|DAILY BEAST
I congratulated him on a “well-deserved win” and he commended me my alliteration, smiling profusely all the while.Booker Goes Bookish|Lucy Scholes|October 19, 2011|DAILY BEAST
No attempt is made to preserve alliteration or archaic diction.The Translations of Beowulf|Chauncey Brewster Tinker
You are familiar with the term "alliteration," and know that it is a favourite device of cheap journalism.The Sounds of Spoken English|Walter Rippmann
This has the right swing, and its slightly faulty alliteration could easily be mended, yet Saint Juliana is not verse.
Holthausen restores alliteration by substituting colde for winter.
Haec frumenta legit, si comperit; ordea spernit, T. finde ge, if she find: cleche for finde would restore the alliteration.
British Dictionary definitions for alliteration
Derived forms of alliterationalliterative, adjective
Word Origin for alliteration
Cultural definitions for alliteration
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.”