What is Literary Allusion?

What is allusion? And what role does allusion play in works of literature? It’s a key part of what many writers do, so it’s worth defining ‘allusion’ and exploring some of the issues that arise from its use in literary texts. First, though, a handy one-sentence definition might help: allusion is when a writer calls into play the work of another writer, usually without explicitly mentioning that other writer by name. If the writer is mentioned, it becomes a reference. Contrast these two (made-up) examples:

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What is a Portmanteau Word?

What is a portmanteau word, or a portmanteau? A one-sentence definition is easy enough: a portmanteau word is, in summary, a word that has been formed by blending two existing words together. So, for instance, a motel is from motor + hotel, brunch is from ­breakfast + lunch, and smog is from smoke + fog.

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What is Plagiarism?

By Dr Oliver Tearle

What is Plagiarism? Plagiarism is, in summary, stealing another person’s work and passing it off as your own. The term ‘plagiarism’ is most commonly used in relation to written works, but writers often borrow words from each other without crediting their source. So the term ‘plagiarism’ or ‘plagiarist’ becomes a little less clear, and needs some unpicking.

The word plagiarism has an interesting, and suggestive, etymology: the term has its origins in a Latin word, plagiarius, meaning ‘kidnapper’.

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What is an Allegory?

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

What is an allegory? And what examples of allegory are there in English literature? An allegory is, put simply, a story that has a double meaning: as The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory puts it, an allegory has a primary or surface meaning, but it also has a secondary or under-the-surface meaning.

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What is Iambic Pentameter?

What is iambic pentameter, and why is it the most popular metre in English poetry? There are two things which need to be addressed here: what ‘iambic’ means and what ‘pentameter’ means. So, by way of introduction to this common metre, here’s a little bit of background on iambic pentameter – with some examples of how it’s been used by some of the greatest poets in the English language.

Lines of poetry can be counted in terms of syllables. So, in this line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

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