by Andrew Miller
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What Is Alliteration?

Alliteration is a literary device that involves two or more words that appear close together and have the same initial stressed consonant syllable. “Good grief” and “red rose” are two examples. This repeat of sound usually involves the same letters in both words. However, it can also involve different letters, as long as the sound is the same for both terms (e.g., “kit and caboodle”). In the reverse, if two words start with the same letter, like "chair" and "celery," but they don’t make the same sound, this would not be an example of alliteration.

 

The repeated sound in alliteration usually occurs with the first letter of two neighboring words. It can occur in the middle of the words as well, such as with “Wetzel’s Pretzels.”

Alliteration Examples

Alliteration is intended to capture the attention of the reader or listener. Therefore, this literary technique typically results in an enjoyable and sometimes rhyming sound and rhythm. Alliteration is commonly used in poetry and other forms of literature, plays, songs, idioms, business names, slogans, speeches, and other places. It’s especially common in Shakespearean writing.  

 

Alliteration in Songs and Poems

·         “Nor the demons down under the sea…” (“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe)

·          “The save soldier sticks his head in sand.” (“Gates of Eden” by Bob Dylan)

·         Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.” (“Let It Be” by The Beatles)

 

Alliteration in Shakespeare

As one of the most famous writers in the world, William Shakespeare frequently used alliteration throughout his plays, sonnets, and poems. This was likely because a great deal of his writing was written for the stage and, therefore, meant to be recited aloud. Because of the rhyming and repetitive consonant sounds, this made his writing more pleasing for audiences to hear.  

 

·         “When griping grief the heart doth wound…” (“Romeo and Juliet”)

·         Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” (“Macbeth”)

·         “…you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins, and gennets for germans.” (“Othello”)

Alliteration in Idioms


An idiom is a phrase that typically has a figurative meaning and is, therefore, not always understood by the individual words. Idioms are common in writing and pop culture, and many have alliteration.

 

·         Down and dirty

·         Forgive and forget

·         Mix and match

Alliterative Business Names


Using alliteration in a business name is a great way to get consumers to remember your brand. Some of the common business names that use alliteration include:

·         Dunkin’ Donuts

·         Best Buy

·         Jamba Juice

Alliteration in Slogans


Many slogans use alliteration as a means of creating a “catchy” and memorable phrase that consumers will remember and associate with the brand, just as with business names.

·         Uber: Move the way you want.

·         M&Ms: Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

·         Capital One: What’s in your wallet?

Alliteration in Tongue Twisters


Many people are exposed to alliteration as children without realizing it when they hear tongue twisters. Tongue twisters are found in every language and are used to help individuals improve their pronunciation of the language. They’re also enjoyable to say.

·         Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

·         How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

·         She sells seashells by the seashore.

Consonance and Assonance


When discussing alliteration, it’s important to also consider two other related literary devices: assonance and consonance. Like alliteration, consonance involves a repetition of consonant sounds, as the word implies. The difference, however, is that this repetition typically occurs at the end of the words (e.g., “flip-flop”). With alliteration, it usually occurs at the beginning.

The term "assonance" also involves a repetition of sound between words. However, instead of a repetition of consonant sounds, assonance involves the repetition of vowel sounds, such as with “ever dissever” and “The Cat in the Hat.”

Other Alliteration Examples

·         It’s been a long work week

·         The car is in tip top shape.

·         He drew it in a “criss cross” pattern.

·         School was canceled, due to the wintery weather

·         The film featured Mickey Mouse.

·         It’s a happy home.

·         The time trials ended.

·         He has one life line left.

·         I’m in a mellow mood

·         Thy Kingdom come…

·         I feel fine.

·         It looks like rain.

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