What Is Consonance?

Marjorie McAtee

Consonance is a poetic device that usually involves consonants that sound similar being repeated within a word, sentence, or phrase. For example, the words chuckle, fickle, and kick are consonant with one another because they share similar interior consonant sounds. This device is generally used make poetry and prose sound more appealing to the ear. Consonance is often paired with assonance, in which similar vowel sounds are repeated within a word, sentence, or phrase. It's generally considered different from rhyme, in that the consonant sounds can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of several successive words, rather than merely at the ends of words, as in rhyming poetry.

The repetition of sounds can make poetry more interesting to read.
The repetition of sounds can make poetry more interesting to read.

Writers typically use literary devices like consonance to underscore the emotions behind their words. Repeated sounds within a passage of poetry or prose can give the writing a more lyrical feel, and enhance the reader's confidence in the author's authority. Consonance is considered of particular value in poetry, where it is often used make imagery more vivid. In poetry that adheres to conventional forms and structures, consonance is considered one of the tools that allows the poet to make his own creative mark on the pre-determined poetic form. In free verse poetry, consonance, along with assonance and alliteration, can take the place of meter and rhyme to help the poet add a kind of structure or pattern to the work.

Consonance is sometimes described as an essential "building block" of literature.
Consonance is sometimes described as an essential "building block" of literature.

When used as a rhetorical device in prose, consonance is generally considered to add a lyrical, musical feel to the work. Authors often use this literary device in their prose to help improve the flow of language within the work. It can help make prose seem more colorful and skilled in its execution. The use of repetitive sounds helps to draw readers in, and it can underscore the overall mood of the writing.

This device can be used to inspire a reader's sense of drama, to add a distinctive, poetic rhythm to a passage of prose, or to add humor and levity to the piece. The repetition of sounds can make a passage of poetry or prose easier and more interesting to read, especially in literature and poetry written for children. It is often considered an essential building block of literature for its versatility in helping to engage the reader's emotions. Consonance is generally employed in combination with assonance and alliteration, two similar literary devices that frequently function in many of the same ways.

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Discussion Comments


Shel Silverstein makes effective use of consonance in a number of his poems. A lot of us probably haven't read those poems since we were a kid but they are just as good as they have always been. I recently started reading them to my daughter and have been pretty delighted by how much is going on inside of the poems.

There is one poem called something like "Ickle Me Pickle Me Tickle Me Too" that has all kinds of great examples of consonance. My daughter loves listening to them and I am loving reading them out loud.


Consonance is a common device used by rappers these days and going back for years. Lots of people think that rapping is just rhyming the last words but there are lots of complicated rhyme schemes that involve both direct and indirect rhymes.

I think that rap gets a bad reputation as poetry because rap has more attitude and style than most poetry. It is like poetry in cool clothes. The clothes might distract from the words but there is a lot going on technically inside of those rhymes.

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