Glossary

Welcome to the glossary of poetic terms. Look here for answers to your questions on the language we use to talk about poetry.

Like art, sport, business, music, and every other complex human activity, poetry has developed its own specialist vocabulary. It can be daunting to come across, for the first time, someone talking about a "bear market", a "pas de deux", or the "offside rule"... but these terms are useful tools, and worth acquiring so that you can talk and write about your subject with confidence.

You can use this glossary to check how to pronounce a word or phrase, find out what it means and learn how to use it in a sentence. You can explore some of the ways in which poets use language, the choices they make and the effects those choices create. There are examples to read and listen to, in poems specially chosen from the Poetry Archive.

Start by browsing by letter, or click on the Glossary item below.

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Related poems

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Daljit Nagra

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation.

Comic Verse

I'm troubled, as you can tell by my introduction, about comic verse. Comic verse gets bad press because rigid notions of comedy foreground throwaway poems. Surely the best comedy is when the poem surprises us into laughter rather than setting up t... >