Literary Devices That Start With E

Here is the list of literary devices that start with E:


An elegy is a mournful, melancholy, or plaintive poem, usually written to lament and commemorate someone who has died. Elegies express deep sorrow and grief over the loss. They reflect on mortality and the pain of absence. Famous elegies include “Lycidas” by Milton and “Adonais” by Shelley.

Example: John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” is an elegy commemorating soldiers who died in World War I.


Elision is the omission or suppression of a vowel, consonant, or entire syllable when speaking or writing. Elision simplifies pronunciation. In poetry, it improves meter and rhyming by omitting unstressed sounds.

Example: Saying “I’m” instead of “I am” demonstrates elision, removing the vowel and consonant in “am”.


An ellipsis (…) indicates an intentional omission or pause in speech or text. In poetry, it creates a pause or silence for dramatic effect. In prose, it shows words or sentences have been left out. Ellipses build anticipation or trailing off.

Example: “But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep…” (Robert Frost)


An encomium is formal praise or a glowing tribute regarding a person, place, idea, or thing. It offers elaborate, eloquent compliments expressing approval and admiration. Encomiums extol noteworthy attributes.

Example: John Dryden’s “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day” praises the musician’s talents effusively.

End Rhyme

End rhyme occurs when rhyming words are placed at the ends of lines of poetry. This is the most common rhyme scheme in poetry where stressed syllables match up. End rhyme creates a pleasing, recurring sound pattern.

Example: “My heart leaps up when I behold / A rainbow in the sky” (William Wordsworth)

End-Stopped Line

An end-stopped line ends with punctuation that creates a pause or full stop, halting the flow of words abruptly. This differs from enjambment which flows without pause at the end of lines.

Example: “When I was one-and-twenty / I heard a wise man say: / ‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas / But not your heart away.'” (A.E. Housman)


Enjambment refers to the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line or phrase in poetry. Instead of pausing, it runs over smoothly from one line to the next without punctuation. This creates a sense of sustained flow.

Example: “I was angry with my friend; / I told my wrath, my wrath did end.” (W.B. Yeats)


An enthymeme is a rhetorical device where an argument is formed by inferring an unstated assumption that must logically be true for the stated premises to lead to the stated conclusion.

Example: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.


Enumeration refers to listing names, locations, items, qualities, or events one by one in a systematic series – similar to cataloging or inventorying everything exhaustively to make a rhetorical point through the sheer length of the list.

Example: The “begats” listing descendants in the Bible; Whitman’s catalogs of American diversity.


An epic is a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and adventures significant to a culture or nation. Epics mainly focus on the challenging quest of a single heroic figure and incorporate history or legend with imaginative elements. Examples are the Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid.


An epigram is a very short, witty, ingenious, and often paradoxical or satirical poem or saying with a clever or pointed message. Epigrams seek to express a thought, sentiment, or idea in a concise, pithy way that lingers in the reader’s mind.

Example: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” (Alexander Pope)


An epigraph is a brief quotation, statement, or poem placed at the beginning of a literary work or section of a work. This epigraph serves as a motivating or unifying idea. It hints at themes and helps establish tone and mood.

Example: Toni Morrison used folk sayings and songs as epigraphs in her novels.


An epilogue is a concluding section added at the end of a literary work such as a novel, play, or long poem. It often comments on the actions of the main narrative and ties up loose ends, resolving remaining issues and questions.

Example: Shakespeare frequently ended comedies with short epilogues.


An epiphany is a sudden moment of intuitive realization, insight, or illumination relevant to the work’s theme and characters. In literature, the character comes to recognize and understand some pivotal truth or the heart of a situation.

Example: Scrooge’s realization about the importance of generosity marks an epiphany in A Christmas Carol.


Epiphora involves repeating the same word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences within a stanza or passage. This repetition creates emphasis through parallel cadence and highlights key ideas.

Example: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills” (Churchill).


An epistle is a composition in the form of an open, formal letter addressed to a specific person or group. Epistles are didactic in purpose, aiming to educate or advise the recipient on philosophical, ethical, spiritual, or societal matters.

Example: Many New Testament books like Romans and Corinthians are epistles from Apostles to churches.


Epistolary refers to a literary work, most often a novel, comprised of a series of documents such as letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings and other personal writings. It uses the letter form to drive the narrative.

Example: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein uses letters and diary entries to tell the story.


Epistrophe is the repetition of the same word or words at the ends of successive clauses or sentences. However, unlike epiphora, the repeated words may change with each repetition rather than stay fixed.

Example: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right…” (Gettysburg Address)


An epitaph is a short text honoring the deceased inscribed on a headstone or plaque. Epitaphs seek to summarize the dead person’s life, express emotions, or reflect on mortality. They are very concise by necessity.

Example: “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty I’m free at last.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)


An epithet is an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic or appropriate to a person, place, or thing. Common fixed epithets act as stock descriptors.

Example: In Homer’s epics, “gray-eyed” Athena and “rosy-fingered” Dawn are oft-repeated epithets identifying them.


Epizeuxis is the immediate repetition of a word or phrase in a row with no other words between. It is repetitive for emphasis and adds emotional stress through amplification.

Example: “Words, words, words” in Hamlet emphasizes Hamlet’s fixation on language.


An eponym is a name derived from a real or fictional person that has become permanently associated with a particular place, idea, discovery, or invention.

Example: The sandwich is named for the Earl of Sandwich. The word “quisling” refers to traitors based on Norwegian leader Vidkun Quisling.


Equivocation uses deliberately vague or ambiguous language to deceive, often by concealing the truth. It aims to mislead with words capable of double interpretation. In literature, equivocation adds complexity.

Example: The witches in Macbeth equivocate with paradoxical prophecies that seem to predict multiple futures.


An eristic argument is one aimed at winning through aggressive or sophisticated disputation, rather than truth-seeking. Eristic rhetoric uses disputes combatively to embarrass opponents.

Example: Eristic tactics may include nitpicking small flaws or quibbling over semantics during a heated debate.


An essay is a short work of nonfiction that discusses, analyzes, evaluates, or argues a specific topic or theme from the subjective point of view of the author. Essays are typically casual in style with a personal tone.

Example: Michel de Montaigne pioneered the discursive “essai” exploring random thoughts on diverse topics.


Ethos establishes an author or speaker’s good character, authority, credibility, ethics, and trustworthiness. An ethical appeal convinces the audience of the writer’s reliability and expertise on the subject.

Example: A doctor has strong ethos when writing about health issues.


Etymology is the study of the origin, evolution, and historical development of words. Examining patterns in etymology elucidates how language changes over time and the cultural forces shaping words.

Example: The word “politics” derives from the Greek word polis meaning city or state.


A eulogy is a speech or written tribute praising key qualities, accomplishments, and the life of a deceased person. It seeks to commemorate the dead and is delivered on solemn ceremonial occasions like funerals.

Example: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address eulogizes the soldiers in the Civil War battle.


A euphemism is a polite, mild, or indirect word or phrase used to refer to something unpleasant, taboo, or potentially offensive in order to avoid offense or bluntness. Euphemisms are more socially acceptable substitutions.

Example: Passed away instead of died; downsized rather than fired.


Euphony refers to the use of language for its agreeable, pleasing aural or sound effects, selecting words that sound harmonious, melodious, sweet, and musical when read aloud.

Example: “The moan of doves in immemorial elms, / And murmuring of innumerable bees” (Tennyson)


Evidence includes the facts, examples, quotes, statistics, literal details, and other forms of support authors use to strengthen their claims, substantiate their arguments, and persuade readers in both fiction and nonfiction writing.

Example: Citing scientific studies in an essay provides evidentiary support.

Exact Rhyme

An exact rhyme, also called a perfect rhyme, uses identical vowel and final consonant sounds in the stressed syllables of rhyming words (such as cat/hat). This creates the closest rhyme match.

Example: “The cat in the hat” – the rhyming words share the same end sounds.


Exaggeration involves deliberate overstatement or representing something as larger, smaller, better, worse, or more intense than it actually is in order to produce a strong impression. Hyperbole is a type of exaggeration.

Example: “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”


An exemplum is a brief anecdote, story, or tale that serves as a moral example or illustrative lesson. The exemplum offers prototypical cases of ethical actions or norms.

Example: Jesus’s Parable of the Good Samaritan provides an exemplum about helping others.


Existentialism is a philosophy stressing individual existence, freedom, and choice. It posits that individuals create meaning in life through subjective free will because innate meaning does not exist. Existential themes pervade modern literature.

Example: Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis explores existentialist ideas of alienation.


An expletive is a profane, vulgar, or obscene expression or word uttered to convey emotion such as anger, annoyance, surprise, or pain. Expletives are often meant as exclamations or intensifiers.

Example: In fiction or dialogue, characters may use swear words as expletives when frustrated. However, excessive use can seem unnatural.


Explication is the detailed analysis or interpretation of the form, language, structure, themes, meanings, and nuances of a short poem or passage of a longer work of literature.

Example: A class assignment may require explicating a Shakespeare sonnet.

Explicatory Essay

An explicatory essay seeks to analyze, interpret, and describe the meaning of a short passage, poem, or literary work by breaking it down into its parts to uncover patterns, nuances, and layers of meaning.

Example: An explicatory essay might explain symbolic themes in Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”


Exposition refers to background information presented at the beginning of a fictional narrative such as a novel or short story. The exposition introduces setting, characters, relationships, and relevant context needed to understand the ensuing events.

Example: Chapters 1-3 in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice provide pertinent exposition.

Expository Essay

An expository essay objectively explains, informs, analyzes, defines, illustrates, or clarifies an idea, concept, process, or situation by using evidence, facts, and information. It aims to educate readers.

Example: An essay describing the causes of World War I would be an expository essay.

Extended Metaphor

An extended metaphor elaborates on a standard metaphor by drawing out the comparison throughout an entire poem or section of a literary work to create an overarching primary analogy.

Example: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 compares love to a summer’s day extended throughout.

External Conflict

External conflict sets a character against something outside such as nature, society, technology, or another character, rather than struggling with an internal dilemma. Any struggle against forces outside oneself.

Example: Moby Dick represents an external force creating conflict with Captain Ahab in Melville’s novel.

Eye Rhyme

An eye rhyme occurs when two words appear to rhyme visually on the printed page but actually do not rhyme when spoken aloud. Their spellings seem similar but pronunciation differs.

Example: Cough and bough are eye rhymes – they look alike but sound different (off vs bow).

So in summary, literary devices starting with E encompass key terms related to language forms, rhetorical techniques, and compositional elements used in literature and poetry. Let me know if you would like me to expand on any term!

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