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15 common GCSE poetry terms

GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) poetry terminology refers to the specific language and concepts used to analyse and understand poetry.

Here are some common GCSE poetry terms and their definitions:

1. Alliteration

The repetition of the same sound at the beginning of several words in a line or verse, for example, "peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers".

2. Assonance

The repetition of the same vowel sound in several words in a line or verse, for example, "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain".

3. Connotation

The emotional or cultural associations that a word or phrase has, beyond its literal definition.

4. Enjambment

The continuation of a sentence or thought from one line of poetry to the next, without a pause or punctuation mark.

5. Imagery

The use of vivid and descriptive language to create a mental image or sensory impression in the reader's mind.

6. Metaphor

A comparison between two things that are not alike, to create a new meaning, for example, "life is a journey".

7. Personification

Giving human characteristics to nonhuman things or abstract ideas, for example, "the wind whispered through the trees".

8. Rhyme

The repetition of the same sounds at the end of words in a line or verse.

9. Simile

A comparison between two things that are not alike, using "like" or "as", for example, "she was as pretty as a flower".

10. Tone

The mood or attitude that the poem conveys to the reader, for example, happy, sad, angry, or reflective.

11. Hyperbole

An exaggeration used for effect. For example "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse!".

12. Stanza

A group of lines in a poem, often with a repeated pattern of rhythm and rhyme.

13. Sonnet

A fourteen-line poem, usually with 10 syllables in each line.

14. Onomatopoeia

The use of words whose sounds copies the thing or process they describe. For example, the words 'pop', 'crack' and 'splat' are all onomatopoeic.

15. Theme

The central idea or ideas that a writer explores through a text.

Understanding these terms can help students to analyse and interpret poetry more effectively, and to communicate their ideas more clearly in exams and essays.

Need help with analysing poetry? Contact Prepped on 01284 658777 or email


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