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Definition: The repetition of consonant sounds in the beginning of words or in stressed syllables.

1. We chowed down cheese chips with our chowder.
2. We munched on melons.
3. We lunched on lobster.

Alliteration can be overdone and sound juvenile, but it can also be a strong tool if you're thoughtful about it. Some consonants sound soft and others harsh, some short and others long. Like assonance, alliteration can add to tone and meaning.

This poet manipulates sound in many ways. Check out the repetition of "s" in the poem:


Of All Nights

Though religion is distant
and matzoh clumsy on my tongue,
let me understand the meaning of these days.
A week and some drops of wine
to feel our ancestors' pain.
I wonder how we attempt
to comprehend sand overwhelming
skin, clothes, food
by taking dry, flat bread
and calling it even.
Tell me something new.
Tell me how the Egyptians felt
when they were swallowed by the sea,
and how I should rejoice
at a swarm of plagues,
firstborns slaughtered,
our vow to return to our land —
as if we haven't already claimed dues
and taken Israel back,
pushing another race from their own soil
so we can sit
at a seder table and exclaim
next year in Jerusalem!

— Meredith W, MA, Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Award


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