What Is Consonance? Definition & 30+ Examples

Consonance, a captivating literary device, has long charmed readers with its rhythm and harmony. At the heart of poetic expression, consonance masterfully repeats consonant sounds in close proximity, creating a mesmerizing effect that elevates the written word.

Esteemed writers throughout history have embraced this technique, infusing their works with a soul-stirring musicality.

From the classics to modern literature, consonance continues to captivate and connect with readers, highlighting the awe-inspiring potential of language to inspire and evoke emotions.

As we delve into the fascinating realm of consonance, prepare to be enthralled by the charm and adaptability of this ageless literary device, and uncover the true magnitude of its emotive prowess.

Definition of Consonance

Consonance is a literary device used in poetry and prose, where consonant sounds are repeated in close proximity within a line or passage. This repetition of consonant sounds creates a musical or rhythmic effect and helps to enhance the mood, tone, or atmosphere of a piece of writing.

Consonance is similar to alliteration, but while alliteration specifically refers to the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words, consonance can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of words.

History and Origin

The history and origin of consonance can be traced back to ancient times when oral storytelling and poetry were primary forms of communication and artistic expression. In early societies, mnemonic devices such as consonance, alliteration, and assonance were employed to make stories and poems easier to remember and recite.

These techniques also added a pleasing musicality and rhythm, essential for capturing the audience’s attention.

Consonance has its roots in various ancient cultures, including Greek and Latin poetry, as well as the rich oral traditions of the Norse and Celtic peoples. The technique was widely used in Old English poetry, as exemplified in the epic poem “Beowulf.” As literary forms evolved, consonance continued to flourish, becoming a vital component of both classical and modern poetry.

Throughout history, poets and writers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds have embraced consonance as a means of enhancing the aesthetic and emotional impact of their works.

The enduring appeal of consonance is a testament to its versatility and its ability to transcend time and cultural boundaries, remaining a vital and cherished literary device across generations.

Consonance vs. Assonance vs. Alliteration

The literary devices consonance, assonance, and alliteration are often confused with one another. Each device adds a layer of beauty and meaning to poetry and prose. While these three terms may appear similar at first glance, they differ in their specific usage and effect on the written word.

To begin, consonance refers to the repetition of consonant sounds within words that are in close proximity to one another. These sounds need not be at the beginning or end of the word but can be found at any point within the word as well.

Examples of consonance are:

  • Tether and weather
  • Frames and dreams
  • Sent and rent

Assonance, on the other hand, involves the repetition of vowel sounds within adjacent or nearby words. Vowel sounds can also occur within the words and do not have to be limited to the beginning or end.

Examples of assonance include:

  • Boat and coat
  • Cope and cone
  • Stir and whirl

Alliteration differs from both consonance and assonance in that it is the repetition of the initial consonant sounds of words placed in close proximity. This repetition can be subtle or obvious, depending on the writer’s intention.

Some examples of alliteration are:

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
  • She sells seashells by the seashore
  • Busy bees buzz brightly

Each literary device targets a unique aspect of the words being used. Consonance involves consonant sounds, assonance focuses on vowel sounds, and alliteration is limited to the initial consonant sounds of nearby words.

Purpose and Effect of Consonance

Consonance serves various purposes in literature and poetry, enhancing the text’s impact on the reader or listener.

Creating Rhythm and Musicality

One of the main purposes of consonance is to create rhythm and musicality within a piece of writing. This can make the text more enjoyable to read, as the repetitive sounds create a sense of harmony and flow.

By adding consonance, an author can infuse their work with a melodic quality that engages the reader’s auditory senses and improves the overall experience of reading the text.

Emphasizing Ideas and Themes

One of the effects of consonance is the reinforcement of ideas and themes within a piece of writing. The repetition of specific consonant sounds can draw the reader’s attention to particular words, phrases, or concepts.

This helps to emphasize and solidify the importance of those ideas within the work. Consonance can also create a sense of unity in a text, as the recurring sounds form a connection between different elements of the piece.

Enhancing Emotional Impact

Consonance also plays a role in enhancing the emotional impact of a piece of writing. Specific consonant sounds can evoke emotions ranging from happiness to sadness, creating a response in the reader or listener.

By carefully selecting and repeating certain sounds, an author can manipulate the reader’s emotions, guiding them through the narrative in a more immersive and powerful way. In turn, this helps to convey the author’s intended message and theme more effectively.

Function of Consonance

Consonance serves various purposes in literature and rhetoric. It enhances the auditory experience for readers and listeners by creating a harmonious and rhythmic flow of sounds. Furthermore, consonance helps convey specific emotions, emphasize certain words or ideas, and establish a memorable cadence.

One of the primary functions of consonance is to create a sense of musicality within a piece of writing. The repetition of consonant sounds can produce a melodic, euphonious effect that is appealing to the ear. This is often employed in poetry and song lyrics, where sound and rhythm play a significant role in expressing meaning.

Additionally, consonance can be used to convey an emotion or create a specific mood within a text. The choice of consonant sounds and the frequency of their repetition can evoke feelings such as sadness, joy, or even unease.

For example, the repeated use of “s” sounds can create a soothing, peaceful atmosphere, while harsh, guttural consonants like “k” or “g” can evoke tension or aggression.

Another important function of consonance is to emphasize particular words or ideas. By repeating similar consonant sounds in close proximity, a writer or speaker can draw attention to specific elements within their work, making them more memorable or impactful.

Finally, the use of consonance can contribute to the overall structure and cohesiveness of a literary work. In poetry and prose, the repetition of sounds can create a sense of unity, linking seemingly disparate ideas or images. This can aid in the reader’s comprehension and appreciation of the text, as well as enhance its aesthetic quality.

Impact of Consonance

Consonance plays a significant role in enhancing the overall appeal of literature and language. This technique can be found in various forms of writing, such as poetry, prose, and songs, and serves to create a harmonious flow that evokes emotions and strengthens the message conveyed by the writer.

The use of consonance in literary works helps to create a sense of rhythm and musicality, contributing to the beauty and cadence of the text. This, in turn, makes the work more memorable and engaging, capturing the attention of the reader or listener.

Furthermore, consonance can also be used to reinforce the meaning of specific words or phrases, drawing attention to them and emphasizing their importance within the text.

When used effectively, consonance can enhance the overall impact of a literary piece by:

  • Creating a smooth and pleasing flow of words.
  • Establishing a sense of musicality and rhythm in the text.
  • Emphasizing and highlighting keywords or phrases.
  • Eliciting emotional responses from the reader.
  • Contributing to the memorability of the work.

While the powerful impact of consonance in literature cannot be denied, it is essential to use this technique judiciously. Overuse of consonance can lead to a monotonous and repetitive effect, detracting from the overall quality of the work.

Employing consonance skillfully will ensure that it enriches the text and amplifies the desired message, resonating with the reader on both an intellectual and emotional level.

Examples of Consonance in Everyday Life


Consonance is a key component of many poems, both classical and modern, used to create rhythm, musicality, and emotional resonance.

Some examples include:

  • “The Tyger” by William Blake:

The repeated “r” sound in the following lines enhances the poem’s energy and rhythm:

"Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
  • “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas:

In this poem, Thomas uses consonance to create a sense of urgency and defiance, urging his father to fight against the approach of death. Notice the repetition of the “g” and “t” sounds in the following lines:

"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."

Popular Songs

Consonance is also a prevalent feature in popular songs, where it contributes to the overall musicality and catchiness of the lyrics.


  • “Some Nights” by Fun:

In this song, Fun uses consonance to create a sense of internal struggle and questioning. Notice the repetition of the “s” sound in these lines:

"Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck 
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they'd just fall off"
  • “Lose Yourself” by Eminem:

In this song, Eminem employs consonance to convey the intensity and determination of the protagonist. The repeated “t” and “s” sounds in the following lines contribute to the song’s powerful rhythm:

"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy 
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgetting"


In the advertising industry, consonance lends a catchy quality to slogans, making them memorable for potential customers.

Some examples include:

  • Kit Kat’s Slogan:

Kit Kat, a popular chocolate-covered wafer bar, uses consonance in its advertising slogan to create a memorable and catchy phrase. Notice the repetition of the “k” and “t” sounds:

"Have a break, have a Kit Kat."
  • Coca-Cola’s Slogan:

Coca-Cola, the famous soft drink brand, has used various slogans over the years. One of their slogans employs consonance through the repetition of the “t” sound, making it appealing and memorable:

"Taste the feeling."

Everyday Language

Tongue twisters

Examples include:

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
  • Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Common sayings


  • “Live and learn.”
  • “Time flies when you’re having fun.”
  • “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
  • “Slow and steady wins the race.”
  • “All’s well that ends well.”

Idiomatic expression

Examples include:

  • “Busy as a bee.”
  • “Safe and sound.”
  • “Dead as a doornail.”
  • “Practice makes perfect.”
  • “Fit as a fiddle.”

Prominent Writers and Their Use of Consonance

Throughout literary history, consonance has been skillfully employed by various authors to enhance their work. One notable writer who frequently incorporated consonance is William Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare

In both his plays and sonnets, Shakespeare used the technique to create rhythm and emphasize specific emotions or themes.

For example:

In his famous play “Macbeth,” there is a line that reads:

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair."

Edgar Allan Poe


In his poem “The Raven,” consonance pairs with other sonic elements like alliteration and rhyme to create a haunting and suspenseful atmosphere. One striking line from the poem is:

"And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain."

Emily Dickinson

A renowned American poet also utilized consonance in her works. Her unique style often blends consonance with other poetic devices to emphasize particular meanings or images.


In her poem “A Narrow Fellow in the Grass,” consonance helps to illustrate the slithering movement of a snake:

"His notice sudden is."

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify consonance in a text?

To identify consonance in a text, focus on the patterns and purpose behind the recurring consonant sounds. Look for instances where consonant sounds are repeated in close proximity, and consider how these repetitions contribute to the overall mood, rhythm, or meaning of the piece.

Keep in mind that some occurrences may be unintentional, while others may be deliberate on the part of the writer.

Are there any tips for effectively using consonance in my own writing?

To use consonance effectively in your own writing, consider the following tips:

• Be deliberate in your choice of consonant sounds and their placement within the text.
• Use consonance to support the overall mood, tone, or theme of your piece, making sure it serves a purpose in your writing.
• Don’t overuse consonance, as it can become distracting or overwhelming if used excessively.
• Experiment with different consonant sounds and combinations to find the most effective patterns for your specific writing style and goals.
• Read and analyze examples of consonance in literature, songs, and advertising to gain a better understanding of how it can be used effectively.

Is consonance always intentional, or can it occur naturally in writing?

While consonance can be an intentional stylistic choice made by the writer, it can also occur naturally in writing as a result of the inherent patterns and rhythms of language.

In some cases, a writer may not be consciously aware of using consonance, but the repetition of consonant sounds may still contribute to the overall effect and impact of their work.

Are there any drawbacks or challenges to using consonance in writing?

While consonance can enhance the mood, rhythm, and overall effect of a piece, there are potential drawbacks and challenges to consider.

Overusing consonance can make the writing feel forced or overly stylized, detracting from the content and potentially confusing or overwhelming the reader.

Striking the right balance between using consonance effectively and maintaining the clarity and natural flow of the language is key to successfully incorporating this literary device into your writing.

How can I analyze the use of consonance in a literary analysis or critique?

When analyzing the use of consonance in a literary analysis or critique, consider the following steps:

• Identify instances of consonance in the text by noting the repetition of consonant sounds in close proximity.
• Examine the context in which the consonance occurs and consider how it contributes to the overall effect, mood, or theme of the piece.
• Discuss the author’s possible intentions in using consonance, considering factors such as the desired emotional impact, the enhancement of rhythm or musicality, or the emphasis of particular ideas or themes.
• Compare the use of consonance in the text with other literary devices or sound patterns, such as alliteration or assonance, to gain a broader understanding of the author’s stylistic choices and techniques.


Consonance is a powerful and versatile literary device that has captivated readers and writers alike for centuries. With its ability to create rhythm, musicality, and harmony, consonance enhances the beauty and expressiveness of language across various forms of writing, from poetry to prose and beyond.

By examining the many applications and effects of consonance in literature, songs, advertising, and everyday language, we can develop a deeper appreciation for the artistry and skill involved in crafting memorable and engaging texts.

As you continue to explore the fascinating world of consonance, remember to pay attention to the subtle nuances of sound and the intricate patterns they create, and let yourself be swept away by the expressive power and endless possibilities of this timeless literary device.

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Aerielle Ezra is an enthusiastic student of architecture who has a wide range of interests, including psychology, lifestyle, and relationships. Apart from her studies, she also likes to engage in athletic activities, particularly volleyball. When she is not playing, she spends her free time watching her preferred sitcoms or reading her favorite books, which include fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.