What is Assonance?

I have found that people come upon my site while trying to find the meaning of the word “assonance” at least several times per week.

Assonance occurs when a series of words contain a vowel sound in common. For example, “Jo ascended the throne and told the whole populace to throw a bone to Polonius the Vole”. Notice how the words don’t necessarily rhyme exactly, but many of them share a certain type of “O” sound.

If you’re like me, you may sometimes get assonance mixed up with alliteration, which describes a group of words in which several begin with the same consonant sound. For example, “Terrific, Thomas, I tell you; Tabitha told me the two will take the train by the Thames for tea”. Little or no assonance, but lots of alliteration having to do with the “T” sound.

Why is this site named Assonance? A momentary lapse of reason, perhaps. In any case, some of what I write could be construed as asinine, and in my word-mangling mind, assonance could be defined as “the quality of being asinine”; sort of a poor spelling of asinineness. Alert reader Angie pointed out below that my blog’s subtitle is yet another example of assonance! Believe it or not, I had not noticed that, so I’m clearly a natural at it.

If my site has helped you understand the meaning of “Assonance” (or alliteration), feel free to leave a comment and say hello!

Visitor “Aitil”, or should I say, Litia, asked for a simpler example of assonance, and I’m happy to oblige. I hope you don’t mind a little slang. I’ll do more if you want: 🙂

“Yo, hello, I’m going with the flow, don’t you know that we’re both on a roll?”

Here’s a more technical definition for those interested.

I do miniature writings on Twitter. Yesterday I came up with this morsel, and only afterward realized that it contained loads of assonance. I just can’t help myself. The concept was to use the word “emption”, which refers to buying:

My wallet wants me to preempt emption when I’m faced with temptation. If I were to exempt such unkempt premises, I’d stem contempt.

12 Comments


  1. Thank you it really make a favorable difference to the my collection of the valuable information you provided. It certainly help me to understand the close relation of both words, yet vast difference. thanks.
    Irvy
    From
    Manchester, England UK.

    Reply

  2. As a teacher always looking for interesting, real-life, examples of assonance to show my students to further their understanding of the term, I stumbled across your website and had to chuckle. If I ever find myself in Syracuse, I’ll be sure to pay another visit to your site for dining suggestions. In the meantime, I plan to borrow the subtitle of your blog as my most recent example of assonance. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you!

    Reply

  3. I was intrigue with alliteration as it brougfht to mind how Spanish is spoken phonetically and “H” is the only silent letter, while in English you have words almost spelled the same but sound different, besides several silent letters in the english alphabet. Very interesting indeed.

    Reply

  4. im 13 and at the moment in english class im doing a poster on words i need more understandable words on how to explain what assonance is please help and thankyou 🙂

    yours sincerely
    Aitil LlehctiM

    Reply

  5. Do silent letters count as assonance?

    Reply

  6. Hi Glory,
    Good question. Silent letters aren’t heard, so you could say that they don’t directly cause assonance.

    BUT… they might indirectly cause it. For instance, take the word “resign” for instance. You don’t hear the letter “g” when you say that. But if you spelled it “resin”, you get a word for sticky stuff that’s pronounced very differently. 🙂 So the “g” has an effect on how it’s pronounced.

    So the “g” in “resign” allows you to have assonance that can relate to the words “refine”, “malign” (another silent “g”), “swine”, “line”, “benign” (yet another silent “g”!), “mine”, and plenty of other words that use that vowel sound. Hope that helps!

    Dave

    Reply

  7. Being a student of M.a English Literature, it mostly troubles me to identify and differentiate assonance from alliteration. So, your blog really help me lot to understand it properly. Thanks……..

    Reply

  8. This really helped me a lot. My teacher told us to a assonance poem to put in our poem book we are going to make and this site helped me a lot because it helped me understand assonance.

    Reply

    1. Heidi,
      That’s great! Feel free to publish your poem here if you’d like!
      Best, Dave

      Reply

  9. I mean “to do a assonance poem” sorry for the spelling mistake.

    Reply

  10. In what category does ”Rapping” , RunDMC, Enimen, Kanye West etc., come in; ‘assonance” or ”alliteration”?.

    Reply

  11. Dominico! 🙂
    Assonance and alliteration can be anywhere, and I’m sure those guys have bits of all of it here and there, because they do excellent wordplay!

    Dave

    Reply

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