Literary consonance

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For musical consonance, see Consonance and dissonance.

Consonance is a poetic device characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession, as in "pitter patter" or in "all mammals named Sam are clammy".[1]

Consonance should not be confused with assonance, which is the repetition of vowel sounds. Alliteration is a special case of consonance where the repeated consonant sound is at the stressed syllable,[2] as in "few flocked to the fight" or "around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran". Alliteration is usually distinguished from other types of consonance in poetic analysis, and has different uses and effects.

Another special case of consonance is sibilance, the use of several sibilant sounds such as /s/ and /sh/. An example is the verse from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven": "And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain." (This example also contains assonance around the "ur" sound.) Another example of consonance is the word "sibilance" itself.

Consonance is an element of half-rhyme poetic format, sometimes called "slant rhyme." It is common in hip-hop music, as for example in the song Zealots by the Fugees: "Rap rejects my tape deck, ejects projectile/Whether Jew or gentile I rank top percentile." (This is also an example of internal rhyme.)

Traditionally, consonance has been used to emphasize or imitate a sound in formal poetry but is often used in modern days to create a tongue-twister effect.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chris Baldick (2008). The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford University Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-19-920827-2. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Alliteration - The Free Dictionary

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