Alliteration- Definition and Examples

Merriam-Webster defines alliteration as "the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables." Alliteration is also known as head rhyme or initial rhyme. Alliteration is often grouped with assonance and consonance, which all deal with the repetition of sounds. Alliteration creates a lyrical effect when read, especially if it is read out-loud, which makes the text fun to read and easy to remember. It is important to remember that you can't just rely on repeating letters to identify alliteration, because a letter's sound changes based on what letter is next to it; for example:

I feel that the phrase is puzzling.

as you can see there are two "p" words close together but the "p's" do not have the same sound, so this is not an example of alliteration.


Alliteration is used a lot in marketing, as a way for brands to stand out and be easily remembered; the catchier something sounds the more memorable it becomes. Here are some examples of alliteration in marketing:

Company Names: Pay Pal, Best Buy, Dunkin' Donuts, Coca-Cola, etc.

Comic Book Characters: (heroes) Martian Manhunter, Silver Surfer, Wonder Woman, Wally West (the Flash), etc. (villains) Doctor Doom, Fin Fang Foom, Lex Luther, etc.

Alliteration can also be found in tongue twisters, which are often used to help people with their speech; they are especially helpful with improving pronunciation, and fluency of speech. I already have one example of this in the graphic at the beginning of this article, but here are a couple of more for you:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
How many picked peppers did Peter Piper Pick?

A tutor who tooted the flute
Tried to tutor two tooters to toot
Said the two to the tutor
"Is it tougher to toot
Or to tutor two tooters to toot?"

Alliteration is also found in famous literary works, such as:

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;

(From: William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Prologue to Act I, spoken by the Chorus, page 3, lines 5-6)

In these two lines, Shakespeare uses two groups of alliteration; the first being the "f's" (forth, fatal, and foes), the second are the "l's" (loins, lovers, and life). Shakespeare often uses alliteration in his Chorus speeches, in order to give the audience the sing-song effect that a musical chorus would have.

Another example of this can be found at the beginning of Act II in Romeo and Juliet:

Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,
Alike bewitched by the charm of looks;

(page 35, lines 5-6)

It is also quite interesting to note that these two examples occur in exactly the same place within the two prologues (lines 5 and 6). Did Shakespeare have a basic outline for writing his chorus speeches? If so, what would be the reason for that? If you know the answer to either of those questions, please share a comment below.

"Alliteration." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.

"Tongue Twisters." American Web. 13 Feb. 2017.

Shakespeare, Romeo. Romeo and Juliet. edited by Stephen Orgel and A.R. Braunmuller. Penguin Books. Published in New York, 1960. pages referenced are 3 and 35.
"Alliteration." Encyclopædia Britannica. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
"Alliteration." Literary Devices: Definition and Examples of Literary Terms. literary Web 13 Feb. 2017.

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