By Judy Vorfeld
Have you ever wanted to become an expert on alliteration? If nothing else, it’s a beautiful word! Seriously, when one uses alliteration properly – especially in publications – it is subtly effective.
If you work on Web sites, ezines, or print publication, this may be a good time for you to brush up on the amazing world of alliteration.
Main Entry: alÂ·litÂ·erÂ·aÂ·tion (pronounced uh-lit-tuh-RA-shun)
Function: noun — Date: circa 1656
Etymology: ad– + Latin littera letter
: the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and woolly, threatening throngs) — called also head rhyme, initial rhyme
Generally one can use alliteration in business: in headings, headlines, and (very carefully) in letters, proposals, reports, etc.
Here’s some alliteration used by my local newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in one day’s main section:
- Gaming talks a big gamble (better than …Gaming talks a big risk.)
- Fisher hunt feeds tales for campfire (better than …hunt generates tales…)
- Pope asks president to spare McVeigh (better than …Pope asks Bush to…)
- Death spurs Ecstasy debate (better than …spurs Ecstasy wrangle…)
- Tiny tribe in Conn… (better than …Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Conn…)
- Mexican Congress changes (better than …Mexican Congress shifts…)
- …threatens power and popularity (better than …threatens strength and popularity… or …threatens power and reputation.)
In alliteration, the rhyming words don’t need to be next to each other; they just need to be in the same grouping of words. And the words used don’t need to begin with the same letter: they need to have a similar initial sound. Examples: night / knight … no / know … cede / seed … cell / sell.
From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary at www.m-w.com by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.