What Is Alliteration? Definition & Examples For Writers

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Definition: Alliteration is a stylistic literary device that involves the repetition of the initial consonant sounds in a series of words close to one another in a phrase or line of poetry or prose. This repetition of sounds can create a musical or rhythmic effect and help emphasize certain words or themes.

Alliteration is often used in poetry, tongue twisters, and for rhetorical or artistic effect in prose.

For example, in the phrase “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” the repetition of the ‘p’ sound is an example of alliteration.

Alliteration is not only found in the text of the original literature but can sometimes be preserved in the movie adaptations’ dialogues or voice-over narrations. They are also frequently used in film titles and character names.

Examples of Alliteration from Movies

Here are some examples of alliteration from screenplays.

“V for Vendetta” (2006) – Screenplay by the Wachowskis

In this dystopian political thriller, the character V uses alliteration in his introduction to Evey:

“Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished […]”

– V

This iconic monologue is full of alliteration with the repetitive “v” sound, underscoring V’s dramatic and enigmatic persona.

Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire (2005)

The house of Godric Gryffindor has commanded the respect of the wizarding world for nearly ten centuries. I will not have you, in the course of a single evening, besmirching that name by behaving like a babbling, bumbling band of baboons!

– Minerva McGonagall

Check out more quotes from the Harry Potter movies.

Examples of Film Titles that use Alliteration

  1. Peter Pan (1953) – This title uses the repetition of the ‘P’ sound to create a memorable alliteration.
  2. Dirty Dancing (1987) – With the ‘D’ sound repeated, this title is catchy and has a rhythmic quality that fits the film’s theme.
  3. King Kong (1933) – The hard ‘K’ sound repeated at the start of both words makes this title impactful and memorable.
  4. Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (2001) – The ‘M’ sound repeated in “Mickey’s Magical” and “Mouse” provides a whimsical alliterative effect.
  5. Bride of Boogedy (1987) – The ‘B’ sound in “Bride of Boogedy” creates a playful and catchy alliterative title.

Examples of Movie Character names defined by Alliteration

Alliteration in movie character names involves repeating the same consonant sound at the beginning of each word.

Here are five examples of alliterative character names from movies:

  1. Peter Parker – from the “Spider-Man” film series. The character’s name employs the repetition of the ‘P’ sound, making it memorable and catchy.
  2. Bruce Banner – from the “Hulk” movies and the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. The ‘B’ sound is repeated, creating a strong, impactful name for the scientist who becomes the Hulk.
  3. Lois Lane – from the “Superman” films. The ‘L’ sound is used in both her first and last name, which adds to the character’s iconic status.
  4. Marty McFly is from the “Back to the Future” trilogy. The ‘M’ sound at the beginning of both names makes the character’s name roll off the tongue, enhancing its memorability.
  5. Severus Snape – from the “Harry Potter” film series. The ‘S’ sound is repeated in his first and last name, contributing to the character’s enigmatic and sibilant presence.

If you want to find Hollywood screenplays to study, I recommend you check out this article.

Examples of Alliteration from Poetry

Beowulf alliteration example

“Beowulf” (unknown author, translated by Seamus Heaney):

In the Old English epic poem “Beowulf,” alliteration is a key component of the verse structure. Here’s an example from Seamus Heaney’s translation:

“Mighty and canny, / Hygelac’s kinsman was keenly watching / for the first move the monster would make.”

– from Beowulf

Alliteration is even more evident in the original Old English, as it was a principal organizing feature of Anglo-Saxon poetry.

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
In this English poem, Coleridge uses alliteration to create a melodic quality and to emphasize certain images or themes:

“The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, / The furrow followed free; / We were the first that ever burst / Into that silent sea.”

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The repetition of the ‘f’ sound in “fair,” “foam,” “flew,” “furrow,” “followed,” and “first” is a clear example of alliteration.

“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven – read by Christopher Lee.

Poe’s famous narrative poem is known for its musicality and stylized language, which includes the use of alliteration:

“And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain / Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;”

– Edgar Allan Poe

In this line, the ‘s’ sound is repeated in “silken,” “sad,” “uncertain,” and “rustling,” which helps to convey the eerie atmosphere of the poem.

These examples illustrate how alliteration has been employed to add a lyrical quality to poetry and to help readers remember and recite the verses.

Summing Up

Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds in nearby words, enhancing language’s musicality and appeal.

In literature, alliteration may be used to emphasize particular themes or set a passage’s tone.

In film, alliteration can appear in dialogue, character names, or even movie titles, contributing to a memorable and engaging experience.

For example, the title “Dirty Dancing” uses alliteration to create a catchy name that sticks with the audience.

In poetry, alliteration is especially prevalent, as poets often rely on the device to enhance the aesthetic quality of their work.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like this one on using hyperbole in writing.

Author

  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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