13 Words Every Writer Should Know

How many of these words do you know?

How many of these words do you know?

When you first enter the word of literature and literary academia, the vocabulary can be unnerving. These are words you’ve probably never seen before; you hardly feel comfortable reading them to yourself, much less out-loud. Everyone has met with challenges like these at least once, so try not to let your intimidation keep you from meeting these challenges head-on. Here are 13 words every writer should know.

caesura

(si-ZHUR-ah) n. a strong pause in a line of verse

Poetry buffs will be the most likely to recognize “caesura.” The word comes from Greek and Latin poetry, where it describes a break between words in a metrical foot. But it’s also present in Germanic language verses, such as in the opening lines of Beowulf:

Hwæt! We Gardena || in gear-dagum,

þeodcyninga, || þrym gefrunon,

hu ða æþelingas || ellen fremedon.

Caesurae aren’t always marked with the two vertical lines shown above. Depending on your translation of Beowulf, you may see these lines written with a visible space, as:

Listen! We — of the Spear-Danes          in the days of yore,

of those clan-kings —          heard of their glory,

how those nobles          performed courageous deeds.

Other translations omit visible representations of the caesurae altogether.

concinnity

(kun-SEN-nit-tee) n. harmony in literary style, particularly in reference to the relationships between individual parts and the whole work

I know languages and literature are humanities courses, but honestly, this term is pretty subjective. I’d like to think that all great books and poems are concinnities, so maybe it’s no small wonder this word is pretty rare nowadays. It does seem to be becoming more popular in the design and music worlds, however.

denouement

(day-NOO-mah) n. the final part of a narrative, in which all conflicts are resolved

This may be the only word on this list that you can actually use easily in your day-to-day life.

exegesis

exegete

expatiate

hyperbole

idyll

longueur

paregmenon

synecdoche

tmesis

typocrat

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