Alliteration is a term to describe a literary device in which a series of words begin with the same consonant sound. A classic example is:
“She sells seashells by the sea-shore.”
Another fan-favorite is:
“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
Alliteration is meant to be more than a tongue twister, though. It’s used to emphasize something important that a writer or speaker would like to express.
Even if the sentiment doesn’t resonate, hopefully the audience’s ears will perk up just a little. So, let’s get right to it, as this is a fun literary device, and explore some alliteration examples.
The best way to spot alliteration in a sentence is to sound out the sentence, looking for the words with the identical beginning consonant sounds.
Read through these 20 sentences to help you identify alliteration:
In each of these examples, the alliteration occurs in the words that have the same starting sound. We have purposefully overused alliteration to make a point, but here are three things to remember:
Not every word in a sentence must be alliterative. You can use prepositions, pronouns, and other parts of speech, and still maintain the overall, alliterative effect. Often, a little alliteration goes a long way.
Words don’t have to start with the same letter to be alliterative, just the same sound, so “Finn fell for Phoebe” is alliterative as the digraph ph makes a “fuh” sound.
Alliteration doesn’t need to be in an entire sentence to be effective. Any two-word phrase can be alliterative.
Even some single words can be alliterative, if they have multiple syllables which begin with the same consonant sound.
Companies use the alliterative effect all the time. The major reason companies use it is to ensure their brand name is memorable. Think, for example, of all of the famous and well-known brands and companies that have used alliteration in their names:
An alliterative name can help you stand out in the crowd and make you more memorable. There are probably some fictional characters or public figures that stand out in your head as a result of the alliterative effect of their name. For example:
* Remember, alliterative words don’t have to start with the same letter, just the same initial sound.
Finally, many well-known phrases, quotes, and sayings also make use of alliteration:
Busy as a bee
Dead as a doornail
Get your goat
Give up the ghost
Good as gold
Home sweet home
Leave in the lurch
Mad as a March hare
Make a mountain out of a molehill
Method to the madness
Neck and neck
Not on your nelly
Out of order
Pleased as punch
Right as rain
Alliteration is a commonly used stylistic tool that adds emphasis and interest to a sentence and can help you remember names and phrases. Enjoy playing with alliteration, but be careful not to overdo it.
To no surprise, alliteration lends itself particularly well to poetry since it frames a memorable picture, as you’ll see in our Examples of Alliteration in Poems. And, when you’re ready to see a master of literary devices at work, we hope you’ll enjoy Alliteration Examples in Romeo and Juliet.