Alliteration

A literary device in which a series of words begin with the same consonant sound.

Alliteration is a term to describe a literary device in which a series of words begin with the same consonant sound. A classic example is:

“She sells seashells by the sea-shore.”

Another fan-favorite is:

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”

Alliteration is meant to be more than a tongue twister, though. It’s used to emphasize something important that a writer or speaker would like to express.

Even if the sentiment doesn’t resonate, hopefully the audience’s ears will perk up just a little. So, let’s get right to it, as this is a fun literary device, and explore some alliteration examples.

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Hello, my name is Fidel Andrada

How to Identify Alliteration

The best way to spot alliteration in a sentence is to sound out the sentence, looking for the words with the identical beginning consonant sounds.

Read through these 20 sentences to help you identify alliteration:

  1. Becky’s beagle barked and bayed, becoming bothersome for Billy.
  2. Can you keep the cat from clawing the couch? It’s creating chaos.
  3. Dan’s dog dove deep in the dam, drinking dirty water as he dove.
  4. Fred’s friends fried Fritos for Friday’s food.
  5. Greedy goats gobbled up gooseberries, getting good at grabbing the goodies.
  6. Hannah’s home has heat now, hopefully.
  7. Jackrabbits jump and jiggle jauntily.
  8. Kim’s kid kept kicking like crazy.
  9. Larry’s lizard likes lounging in the sun.
  10. Mike made mellow music with his new microphone.
  11. Nick’s nephew needed some new notebooks.
  12. Peter’s piglet pranced priggishly.
  13. Quincy’s quilters quit quilting quickly.
  14. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer rose rapidly into the air.
  15. Seven sisters slept soundly on the sand.
  16. Tim took tons of tools to make toys for the tots.
  17. Vivien is very vixen-like and vexing.
  18. While walking wearily home I wondered where Wally was.
  19. Yarvis yanked his ankle at yoga, and Yolanda yelled out in surprise.
  20. Zachary zeroed in on zoo keeping as a career.

In each of these examples, the alliteration occurs in the words that have the same starting sound. We have purposefully overused alliteration to make a point, but here are three things to remember:

  • Not every word in a sentence must be alliterative. You can use prepositions, pronouns, and other parts of speech, and still maintain the overall, alliterative effect. Often, a little alliteration goes a long way.
  • Words don’t have to start with the same letter to be alliterative, just the same sound, so “Finn fell for Phoebe” is alliterative as the digraph ph makes a “fuh” sound.
  • Alliteration doesn’t need to be in an entire sentence to be effective. Any two-word phrase can be alliterative.

Even some single words can be alliterative, if they have multiple syllables which begin with the same consonant sound.

Alliteration in Brand Names

Companies use the alliterative effect all the time. The major reason companies use it is to ensure their brand name is memorable. Think, for example, of all of the famous and well-known brands and companies that have used alliteration in their names:

  • American Airlines
  • American Apparel
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • Chuck E. Cheese
  • Coca-Cola
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Krispy Kreme
  • LifeLock
  • Lulu Lemon
  • Park Place
  • PayPal

Alliteration in Famous Names

An alliterative name can help you stand out in the crowd and make you more memorable. There are probably some fictional characters or public figures that stand out in your head as a result of the alliterative effect of their name. For example:

  • Donald Duck
  • Fred Flintstone
  • Jesse Jackson
  • Katie Couric*
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Lois Lane
  • Luna Lovegood
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Peter Parker
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Spongebob Squarepants
  • William Wordsworth

* Remember, alliterative words don’t have to start with the same letter, just the same initial sound.

Alliteration in Phrases and Quotes

Finally, many well-known phrases, quotes, and sayings also make use of alliteration:

  • Busy as a bee
  • Dead as a doornail
  • Get your goat
  • Give up the ghost
  • Good as gold
  • Home sweet home
  • Last laugh
  • Leave in the lurch
  • Mad as a March hare
  • Make a mountain out of a molehill
  • Method to the madness
  • Moaning Minnie
  • Neck and neck
  • Not on your nelly
  • Out of order
  • Pleased as punch
  • Pooh-pooh
  • Primrose path
  • Right as rain
  • Ride roughshod

Add Style to Sentences

Alliteration is a commonly used stylistic tool that adds emphasis and interest to a sentence and can help you remember names and phrases. Enjoy playing with alliteration, but be careful not to overdo it.

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Teaching Writing, Grammar, Literature, and the SAT One Page at a time…

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