What Is Alliteration? (with Examples)

by Craig Shrives

Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of the same initial letter in successive words. It is done for effect.

Alliteration is a stylistic literary technique in which neighbouring words repeat the same initial consonant sound. This is not to be confused with consonance as alliteration refers to only the beginning sound of the word and consonance refers to any other part.

example of alliteration

To form alliteration we need two or more words that have the same starting consonant sound. It's important to focus on the sound rather than the letter because it is the sound that catches the audience's attention.

Alliteration Examples

  • He's going to gut the golden goose.
  • Veni, vidi, vici (Emperor Julius Caesar)
  • (I came, I saw, I conquered)
  • Veni, vidi, Visa
  • (I came, I saw, I spent)
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • (A peck is quarter of a bushel. Did that help? No? That's 16 dry pints.)

More Alliteration Examples

Below are more examples of alliteration:
  • I can't say what my wife does. Why? Is it a secret? No, she sells seashells down by the seashore.
  • She had a respectable teeth-to-tattoo ratio.
  • Peter Piper picked pints aplenty, 16 precisely, of pickled peppers.
  • (Alliteration includes words with the repeated sound at the stressed syllable, which is why this alliterative string includes aplenty.)

Why Should I Care about Alliteration?

Alliteration is used for emphasis or to make a sentence more pleasing to the ear. It is used in everyday language, poetry, literature, and business writing.

Here are three good reasons to care about alliteration.

(Reason 1) Grab your audience's attention.

Alliteration is a useful technique for poets and song writers as it focuses their audience's attention on the alliterative words. Typically, alliteration is used to create mood or rhythm. Often, the effect suggests an additional meaning. For example, repeating an "s" sound suggests snake-like stealth, and repeating a "b" sound can beget a banging base beat.

(Reason 2) Use alliteration for emphasis and impact.

Used sparingly in business writing (e.g., once in a document), alliteration can:
  • Be used for emphasis.
  • Be memorable.
  • Make an impact.
  • Make you look confident.
Here is an example of how alliteration might look in a business document:
  • The second proposed solution was commercially astute, cost effective, and convincing.

(Reason 3) Don't overuse alliteration.

While alliteration can be a great way to make your sentences catchy and memorable, overuse will make your work sound childish. Unless your primary audience is children, use this technique sparingly to ensure it remains impactful.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What is consonance? What is assonance? Try our anagram builder. Glossary of grammatical terms