What Is The Definition Of “Assonance?”

Assonance is a literary technique in which a vowel sound or diphthong is repeated in non-rhyming words. In order to be considered assonance, the words used must be close enough for the sound repetition to be noticed. This device is common in prose and poetry, especially in English verse.

Assonance is closely related to other techniques such as alliteration, consonance, and slant rhyme, as all four techniques include a quick succession of repeated sound.

A combination of alliteration (repeating the use of the same beginning consonant sound) and assonance is often used for tongue twisters, which is why they are so difficult to say without mistakes.

Assonance is often used for the same reasons as alliteration. Assonance can affect the tone, rhythm, or mood of the text. For example, repeating certain vowel sounds, such as short u or short o sounds, may create a melancholy feel.

Examples Of Assonance

There are many English proverbs that make use of assonance. The assonance in these examples make them easier to remember, but in a way that is more subtle than it would be if rhyming words were used.

  • A stitch in time saves nine.
  • The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • Let the cat out of the bag.
  • The early bird catches the worm.
  • Honesty is the best policy.

Assonance vs. Rhyming In English Verse

Many people believe that rhyme is a foundation of poetry, but in reality, it was uncommon in Old English verse. Old English did not have many words that rhymed, so poetry primarily used the techniques of meter, rhythm, assonance, and consonance. Only after the Germanic language assimilated words from the Romance languages did rhyme become popular in English poetry.

Rhyme remained a favorite technique in poetry for hundreds of years but has since fallen into disuse in contemporary times. However, consonance, assonance, and alliteration are still used in modern poetry today.

Example of Assonance Used In Poetry 

One of our favorite examples of assonance in poetry comes from Dylan Thomas’s famous poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into The Good Night.”

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight,
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”