All About Alliteration

Have you ever wanted to become an expert on alliteration? If nothing else, it’s such a beautiful word! Seriously, when one uses alliteration properly–especially in publications–it is subtly effective.

If you work on Web sites, e-zines, or print newsletters, this may be a good time for you to brush up on the amazing world of alliteration.

Main Entry: al·lit·er·a·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 recently by my local newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in one day’s main section:

1. Gaming talks a big gamble (better than …Gaming talks a big risk.)
2. Fisher hunt feeds tales for campfire (better than …hunt generates tales…)
3. Pope asks president to spare McVeigh (better than …Pope asks Bush to…)
4. Death spurs Ecstasy debate (better than …spurs Ecstasy wrangle…)
5. Tiny tribe in Conn… (better than …Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Conn…)
6. Mexican Congress changes (better than …Mexican Congress shifts…)
7. …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.

*By permission.
From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate(R) Dictionary at by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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