- the commencement of two or more stressed syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound or sound group (consonantal alliteration), as in from stem to stern, or with a vowel sound that may differ from syllable to syllable (vocalic alliteration), as in each to all.Compare consonance(def 4a).
- the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter, as in apt alliteration’s artful aid.
- the use of the same consonant (consonantal alliteration) or of a vowel, not necessarily the same vowel (vocalic alliteration), at the beginning of each word or each stressed syllable in a line of verse, as in around the rock the ragged rascal ran
1650s, “a begining with the same letter,” from Modern Latin alliterationem (nominative alliteratio), noun of action from past participle stem of alliterare “to begin with the same letter,” from Latin ad- “to” (see ad-) + littera (also litera) “letter, script” (see letter). Formed on model of obliteration, etc. Related: Alliterational.
The repetition of the beginning sounds of words, as in “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” “long-lived,” “short shrift,” and “the fickle finger of fate.”