An alliteration, like onomatopoeia, is figurative language (and within that a device of sound) that focuses on sounds of words to make writing expressive and memorable. In alliteration, two or more consecutive words start with the same consonant sound. Same sound though doesn’t necessarily mean same letters. After all, different letters can produce same sound. Sometimes though alliterative words may not be consecutive. Examples (words that alliterate have been underlined):
Go and get the jug for me.
Gentle Jack didn’t create unnecessary fuss.
Note that in the first example alliterative words aren’t consecutive, and in the second example the first letters don’t match but sounds do.
More resources on alliteration:
(Few things to note: First, to keep the standard high, I haven’t counted articles, prepositions, pronouns, and conjunctions towards the words that alliterate. Second, I’ve avoided names as alliterative words because I believe that’s shortcut and isn’t genuine alliteration; the closest I’ve come is using species of dogs. Third, my comments that go with examples are in square brackets.)
Alliteration examples on 7 topics
The dance of death engineered by the virus has swallowed scores of lives.
Lockdowns have limped the economy and normal life.
The virulent virus has disrupted lives and deflated economies.
The onslaught of online study and work has been overwhelming for most.
The virus has relentlessly stalked countries after countries, states after states, and individuals after individuals.
In these troubled times, travel has come down to a trickle. [Comment: These doesn’t alliterate with others because it starts with a different consonant sound.]
Hospitals have witnessed harrowing scenes of desperation and death.
Delta is the deadliest variant of the virus.
Hospital staff has stood tall amid the tragedy and mounting toll.
Health infrastructure in most countries has succumbed to the savagery of the virus.
In the initial phases of Covid, lockdown was the lever to flatten the curve.
Covid-19 has caused untold desperation, depression, and deaths.
Countries have come together and collaborated to fight Covid.
The troublesome turtle once again spoilt our sand castle.
The water near the beach was crystal clear.
The surfers struggled against the waves.
The wild waves were perfect for surfing.
The boat was tossed around by the tidal waves.
The ship sank in the stormy sea.
The iguanas make deep dives in the ocean to feed on marine algae.
The penguins were flipping and frolicking on the coast.
The dolphin duo swam synchronously few meters away from our boat.
The shark surfaced to breathe.
The walrus was resting on the rock.
The seal took a surprisingly sharp turn to stay away from the shark.
The humpback whale came within a whisker of our boat.
The cheetah chased the antelope.
The woodpecker banged its beak against the bark of the tree.
The fox feasted on its kill.
We passed through the jungle in a jeep.
The lioness lay in wait for the wildebeest.
The herd of deer was drinking water at the waterhole.
The pride of lions was sleeping in the shade. [Sleeping and shade are considered alliterative despite slight difference in their starting sounds.]
After the hearty meal, the lion licked its paws and dozed off.
The slow sloth inched up the tree trunk.
The elephant drove away the dogs from the lakeside.
The hungry hyenas made a hearty meal of lion’s leftover.
Antelopes were alerted by the alarm call of monkeys, who were terrified to see the tiger. [Antelopes, alerted, and alarm don’t alliterate because they don’t start with consonant sounds.]
The bear dug up the mound and made a meal of termites.
The traffic is terrible in peak hours.
The road leading to the district centre was choc-a-block with sleek sedans.
This city never sleeps. [This is an alliteration because both start with the same consonant sound even though their first letters are different.]
With barely any event of significance held last year, the sports scene in the city isn’t great.
The main city park was packed with people.
The business centre is buzzing with activity.
Offices of several global companies dot the downtown.
The subway trains in the city rarely run late.
Luxury labels in most shopping malls occupy pride of place.
I savoured the street food.
The art gallery had an assortment of paintings and murals reflecting local milieu. [Art and assortment don’t alliterate because they don’t start with consonant sounds.]
The sleepy city has nothing in the name of nightlife.
The city boasts of some of the best liberal arts colleges in the country.
As far as crime is concerned, the city witnesses occasional mugging and murder.
The wind rattled the windows.
The sky turned sullen in minutes, signalling bad weather.
Sea level has soared.
The dark, deserted streets bore a dreary look.
Dark clouds descended on the town.
The wind swooshed and swirled, knocking down loose structures.
The clouds covered the city in darkness.
Few brave souls are roaming outside undeterred with umbrellas in hand.
Streets are laden with leaves and branches.
Twelve have lost their lives in the storm.
The rain has been relentless.
Trees have been tossed aside, billboards have been blown away, vehicles have been washed away. [Vehicles and washed alliterate because both start with the same consonant sound even though their first letters are different.]
The deafening downpour has resulted in flash floods.
The sun shone brightly, lighting life on earth.
The sun smiled from behind the mountains, greeting us.
In the summer, the sun scorched the streets.
Sunlight soothed the Arctic after months of winter.
The sun set at 5:30 PM sharp.
The sun, sphere spitting fire, is the source of life on our planet.
The sunbathers saw a shark approaching the coastline.
The blistering sun baked the crops.
The afternoon dazzling sun deterred us from stepping out.
The snow sparkled in the sunlight.
Humidity made the searing sun intolerable.
You look out of sorts. It seems the sun has blistered your brain.
Sunscreen and sunglasses are a necessity in the Sunshine State, Florida.
The dog followed the fleeing miscreants.
The puppy preferred bone to other food.
The Labrador lapped up the entire bowl of milk.
The dog sprinted across the field to fetch the ball.
In a show of affection, the dog wagged its tail vigorously.
Howl of the dog could be heard from hundreds of meters.
The sniffer dog sniffed out the hidden bomb at the airport.
The dog woofed from the window.
The dog was desperate for his favourite biscuits.
The sniffer dog snarled at the stranger.
The two pugnacious puppies pawed at each other.
The dog’s growl forced the girl to leave.
The dog hunted around the house for the ball and eventually found it.
Tongue twisters that alliterate
Tongue twisters are often, but not always, alliterations. Few examples:
Kinky kite kits.
The fickle finger of fate flips fat frogs flat.
There goes one tough top cop.
Carl called Claude.
The flurry fly flitted from flower to flower.
Mr. Melton made a metal motor.
The tailor’s tactics took twice the time.
The short soldier shoots straight.
Brand names that alliterate
Note that the following brand names refer to names of products as well as companies.
|Banco do Brasil||Comcast|
|Bank of Beijing||Dunkin’ Donuts|
|Bed Bath & Beyond||Frosted Flakes|
|Belle Butter||Johnson & Johnson|
|Bianca and Bridgett||King Crisps|
|Big Bazaar||Kit Kat|
|Blockbuster||Mahindra & Mahindra|
|Blue Bell||Novo Nordisk|
|Calvin Klein||Range Rover|
|Circuit City||Ted Talk|
In Airbnb, alliteration has nothing to do with a, the first letter of the name. Here, sound of b alliterates.
Names of persons that alliterate
|Charles Chaplin||Barbara Boxer|
|Greta Garbo||Calvin Coolidge|
|Helen Hunt||Chris Christie|
|Holly Hunter||Gabrielle Giffords|
|Laura Linney||Herbert Hoover|
|Marilyn Monroe||Robert Reich|
|Sylvester Stallone||Steve Scalise|
Exercises on alliteration
In each of the four exercises, identify whether the sentence contains alliteration or not. If yes, then also identify the words that alliterate. Please exclude articles, prepositions, pronouns, and conjunctions from your count of alliterative words. Give the exercises a try before looking at the answers.
1. China Construction Bank has more than 13,000 domestic branches.
2. The virus has caused untold misery and mayhem across the world.
3. The storm came suddenly and furiously.
4. At the break of dawn, the birds chirped in chorus.
5. The tourists thronged the nightclub.
1. No. China and Construction start with different consonant sounds.
2. Yes. Misery and mayhem
3. Yes. Storm and suddenly
4. No. Chirped and chorus start with different consonant sounds.
5. No. Tourists and thronged start with different consonant sounds.
1. The sun hid below the horizon.
2. The German Shepherd looked at the bone with expectant eyes.
3. It was dangerous to sail in the boisterous blue ocean.
4. The tiger ambushed the antelope.
5. The growling German Shepherd forced me to stay away.
1. Yes. Hid and horizon
2. No. Expectant and eyes don’t even start with consonant sounds. Note that alliteration holds only for consonant sounds.
3. Yes. Boisterous and blue
4. No. Ambushed and antelope don’t even start with consonant sounds.
5. No. Growling and German start with different consonant sounds.
1. Only 20-30 percent of cheetah cubs reach adulthood.
2. The lazy leopard didn’t come down from the tree till dusk.
3. At the moment, vaccines seem to be the only panacea for the pandemic.
4. Gentle Jack didn’t create unnecessary fuss.
5. Amy Adams is an American actress who has won several accolades in her career.
1. No. Cheetah and cubs start with different consonant sounds.
2. Yes. Lazy and leopard
3. Yes. Panacea and pandemic
4. Yes. Gentle and Jack
5. No. Amy, Adams, American, and actress don’t even start with consonant sounds.
1. I saw several Egyptian mummies in the museum.
2. The city has couple of colleges.
3. We could hear the whales whistling, trying to communicate with each other.
4. Tiger emerged from the thicket.
5. Ava ate eighty eggs.
1. Yes. Mummies and museum
2. Yes. Couple and college. City doesn’t alliterate with the two because it starts with a different consonant sound.
3. Yes. Whales and whistling
4. No. Tiger and thicket start with different consonant sounds.
5. No. Both the pairs start with vowel sounds.