Alliteration is a poetic device in which – usually – each word or syllable of a line, group of lines, or verse section begins with the same consonant. It is often associated with rhyme, but not always. It is an ancient technique and can be found in many ancient poems, including the Bible. The name alliteration comes from Latin aliter, meaning “otherwise”.
The English term was first recorded in 1590, although its origins go back to the 14th century. The earliest surviving use of the term in print is in William Caxton’s printing of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1485., where it is called “aliteracy”. Alliteration is used to create a pattern of sound and rhythm in poetry, but it is not a substitute for meter, rhyme, or other poetic devices such as assonance.
Poets may use alliteration in various ways: To achieve a distinctive sound by using common words that have similar spellings or pronunciations (e.g. “lazy” for “lady”). To emphasize the sounds of individual words (e.g. “blessed” for “beloved”). To produce a specific mood or effect (e.g. “heavenly” for “God”). Some scholars believe that alliteration is a natural part of the human mind. The use of alliteration in verse dates back to ancient times and has been practised in many cultures. In the English language, alliteration was widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially by William Shakespeare. The technique is still used today in some poems. History Alliterative poetry has existed since the earliest days of written literature.