[ uh-lit-uh-rey-tiv, -er-uh-tiv ]
/ əˈlɪt əˌreɪ tɪv, -ər ə tɪv /
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pertaining to or characterized by alliteration: alliterative verse.
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Origin of alliterative

First recorded in 1755–65; alliterat(ion) + -ive

OTHER WORDS FROM alliterative

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does alliterative mean?

Alliterative is an adjective used to describe things that use or are examples of alliteration—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 make it alliterative.

Sometimes, alliteration can involve the repetition of not a single letter but the same letter combination, such as tr, as in Trip truly tricked Tracy. It can also be created by the repetition of vowels or vowel sounds, as in Every editor expects excellence.

Examples: Many comic book characters have alliterative names, like Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman.

Where does alliterative come from?

The first records of the word alliterative come from the 1750s. Alliteration is recorded earlier, in the 1600s, and comes from 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 make a sentence alliterative 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 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.

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What are some other forms related to alliterative?

  • alliteratively (adverb)
  • alliterativeness (noun)
  • alliteration (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with alliterative

What are some words that often get used in discussing alliterative?

How is alliterative used in real life?

People love to use alliteration because it’s fun. It’s especially used to create memorable names or titles for things.



Try using alliterative!

True or False? 

For something to be considered alliterative, it must involve the repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of a word.

How to use alliterative in a sentence