Assonance - Explore What It Is, Its Meaning, Definition, Usage and Examples

You should have definitely heard about the figure of speech called alliteration. There is a similar one called assonance. Want to know what it is? In this article, you will be introduced to what assonance is, its meaning and definition, how it is used in a sentence and how it differs from alliteration. Also, check out the examples and try out the practice questions to have a better comprehension of the topic.

Table of Contents

What is Assonance? – Meaning and Definition

Assonance is a figure of speech that is characterised by the use of words having similar vowel sounds consecutively. It can be said to be a variation of alliteration.

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines the term ‘assonance’ as “the effect created when two syllables in words that are close together have the same vowel sound, but different consonants”. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, assonance is defined as “the similarity in sound between two syllables that are close together, created by the same vowels but different consonants”, and “the use of the same vowel sound with different consonants or the same consonant with different vowels in successive words or stressed syllables, as in a line of verse”, according to the Collins Dictionary.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides multiple definitions for the term ‘assonance’. According to them, assonance is “relatively close juxtaposition of similar sounds especially of vowels” and the “repetition of vowels without repetition of consonants (as in stony and holy) used as an alternative to rhyme in verse”. It is also defined as the “resemblance of sound in words or syllables”.

How to Use Assonance in a Sentence?

Having come across the meaning and definition of assonance, you might be wondering if the use of rhyming words in a sentence can be considered assonance. The answer to that would be ‘no’. The term ‘rhyme’ refers to words that have either similar vowel sounds or similar consonant sounds, and it mainly focuses on the endings of words. Assonance, however, focuses on the syllables and vowels used in the beginning, middle or end of words used in a sentence.

Employing assonance in a sentence does not mean that you have to use words having similar sounding syllables strictly one after the other. Other parts of speech that complete the thought conveyed in the sentence can be used in between these words. The general idea is to use words with similar syllables in the same sentence and not necessarily successively.

Why Use Assonance in Your Writing?

Not everyday do you have to use assonance in your writing. There are specific reasons for which assonance is used and they are as follows:

  • To create rhythm
  • To direct your audience’s attention to a particular set of words
  • To make the piece of writing look more vivid
  • To give it a tone and meaning
  • To emphasise the theme

How Is Assonance Different from Alliteration?

To help you understand clearly, take a look at the table given below to understand how the use of assonance differs from alliteration in a sentence.

Assonance

Alliteration

  • Assonance refers to the use of similar sounding syllable or vowel sounds in a sentence.
  • Alliteration refers to the use of words with similar phonetic sounds, including consonant sounds and, according to some, even vowel sounds in a sentence.
  • The words with the similar syllable or vowel sounds need not necessarily be placed together. They can be spread across the sentence.
  • The words containing similar sounds are placed close together in the sentence.
  • For example:
    • They seemed to like the green peas salad.
  • For example:
    • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled papers.

Examples of Sentences with Assonance

Here are a few examples that you can refer to for a clearer idea of how assonance works in a sentence.

Examples of Assonance in Literature

Example 1:

“Tyger, tyger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,” (‘The Tyger’ by William Blake)

In the above example, you can see the use of the repetition of the ‘i’ sound in the words tyger, tyger, bright and night, which is an example of how assonance can be applied.

Example 2:

William Wordsworth, in his poem, ‘Daffodils’, applies assonance when he says he saw, “A host, of golden daffodils”. The words host and golden have a similar ‘o’ sound, which is an example of assonance.

Example 3:

“A lanky, six-foot, pale boy with an active Adam’s apple …” (‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov)

In the above example, the words active, Adam’s and apple, all seem to begin with the same vowel ‘a’ and so can be considered as an example of assonance.

Example 4:

“Those images that yet

Fresh images beget,

That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.” (‘Byzantium’ by W.B. Yeats)

In this example, the words – yet, fresh, beget and tormented are seen to have a similar ‘e’ sound which makes it a fitting example of assonance.

Example 5:

“Soft language issued from their spitless lips as they swished in low circles round and round the field,

Winding hither and thither through the weeds” (‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ by James Joyce)

In the above example, the words – issued, spitless, lips, swished, hither and thither and the words – field and weeds are examples of assonance.

Examples of Assonance in Movies and Songs

Let us now take a closer look at a few examples of the use of assonance in movie dialogues and song lines.

Example 1:

A very common line, “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plains” from the movie, ‘My Fair Lady’ is a very good example of assonance. The words rain, Spain, stays, mainly and plains used in the sentence is an example of assonance.

Example 2:

“Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dark fox gone to ground” (‘Grantchester Meadows’ by Pink Floyd)

In the above example, the words lark, harken, barking and dark have a similar syllable ‘ark’ and is an example of assonance.

Example 3:

“Well, I know this little chapel on the boulevard we can go

No one will know, oh, come on girl

Who cares if we’re trashed, got a pocket full of cash we can blow

Shots of patron and it’s on, girl” (Marry You – song by Bruno Mars)

In this example, you can see the repetitive use of the ‘o’ sound in the words know, go, no, oh, pocket, blow, shots and on.

Example 4:

In the song, ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry, you would be able to see multiple instances of assonance. Here is one of the examples from the song for you.

“I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter

Dancing through the fire

‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar

Louder, louder than a lion

‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar”

The words I, eye, tiger, fighter, fire, lion have a similar sounding ‘i’ in them.

Example 5:

“Take you wonder by wonder

Over, sideways and under

On a magic carpet ride

A whole new world

A new fantastic point of view

No one to tell us no

Or where to go” (‘A Whole New World’ – song from the movie, ‘Aladdin’)

In the above example, the words wonder, wonder and under is one example of assonance, the words new, new and view is another example and the words no, no and go is another example of assonance.

Check Your Understanding of Assonance

Go through the following sentences and identify the words that contribute to the effect of assonance.

1. I like your eyes.

2. “A whole new world/A dazzling place I never knew/But when I’m way up here/It’s crystal clear

that now/I’m in a whole new world with you.”

3. “Hear the mellow wedding bells”

4. “A rolling stone gathers no moss”

5. “Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light”

6. “You just gotta ignite the light

And let it shine

Just own the night

Like the Fourth of July”

7. We hope we knew someone who could make a caramel cake and blueberry cupcakes.

8. We bought eight bright dresses for the children.

9. “Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”

10. They were trying to light the fire for such a long time.

Check out the following sentences to see if you identified the words that contribute assonance correctly.

1. I like your eyes.

The ‘i’ sound in the words I, like and eyes.

2. “A whole new world/A dazzling place I never knew/But when I’m way up here/It’s crystal clear

that now/I’m in a whole new world with you.”

Words – New, knew, new, you / here, clear

3. “Hear the mellow wedding bells”

Words – mellow, wedding, bells

4. “A rolling stone gathers no moss”

Words – rolling, stone, no

5. “Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage, against the dying of the light”

Words – age, rave, day, rage, rage, against

6. “You just gotta ignite the light

And let it shine

Just own the night

Like the Fourth of July

Words – ignite, light, shine, night, like, July

7. We hope we knew someone who could make a caramel cake and blueberry cupcakes.

Words – make, cakes, cupcakes

8. We bought eight bright dresses for the children.

Words – eight, bright

9. “Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”

Words – beside, beneath / beneath, trees, breeze / trees , breeze

10. They were trying to light the fire for such a long time.

Words – trying, light, fire, time

Frequently Asked Questions on Assonance

What is the meaning of assonance?

Assonance is a figure of speech that is characterised by the use of words having similar vowel sounds consecutively.

What is the definition of assonance?

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines the term ‘assonance’ as “the effect created when two syllables in words that are close together have the same vowel sound, but different consonants”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides multiple definitions for the term ‘assonance’. According to them, assonance is “relatively close juxtaposition of similar sounds especially of vowels” and the “repetition of vowels without repetition of consonants (as in stony and holy) used as an alternative to rhyme in verse”. It is also defined as the “resemblance of sound in words or syllables”.

Give some examples of assonance used in literature.

Here are a few sentence examples of assonance used in literature.

  • “Tyger, tyger, burning bright
  • In the forests of the night,”

  • “A host, of golden daffodils”
  • “Those images that yet
  • Fresh images beget,
    That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.”

Give some examples of assonance in movies and songs.

Here are a few examples of assonance in movies and songs.

  • “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plains”
  • I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
  • Dancing through the fire
    ‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
    Louder, louder than a lion
    ‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar”

  • “Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dark fox gone to ground”

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