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Consonance in Language

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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Learning the English language does not mean that you master its grammar or enhance your speaking skills. The language also demands that you understand the nuances and features of poetry and literature. One way of doing it is to understand what is consonance, what is consonance meaning and how to identify it. Check out what Edulyte’s language mentors have to say about consonance. Improve your appreciation of the English language effortlessly.

What is consonance: unlock its definition and discover its magic in poetry

To understand the consonance meaning, think of it as an artist wielding their skill to make creative work. Then, like a conductor orchestrating a symphony, consonance adds an enchanting layer of musicality to the verses, captivating hearts and stirring souls.

Consonance is a poetic device. It manifests as the musical repetition of consonant sounds in the lines of a poem, creating a symphony of auditory delight. Consonance in poetry elegantly intertwines the middle or ending sounds, generating a rhythmic cadence that resonates within the reader’s mind.

Importance of Consonance in Poetry

  • Within poetry, consonance stands tall as a vital pillar of expression. It breathes life into words, forging a deeper connection between language and emotion. Poets by skillfully employing consonance, mould words into vivid images and evoke a symphony of sensations.

  • Consonance adds a captivating layer of musicality to poetry, transforming mere words into a lyrical dance. As a well-tuned instrument captivates its audience, consonance mesmerises with its harmonious echoes.

  • Furthermore, consonance is a powerful tool for emphasising key themes and ideas within a poem. By strategically repeating consonant sounds, poets lend weight and emphasis to specific words or phrases, amplifying their impact on the reader. In addition, this technique bestows a sense of unity upon the verses, linking different elements with the thread of sound.

  • Moreover, consonance fosters a deeper appreciation for the sheer beauty of language itself. It allows poets to explore the vast expanse of phonetic possibilities. The sonic exploration infuses poetry with an ethereal quality, captivating both wordsmiths and their audiences.

Consonance Examples: Exploring Consonance in Poetry and Its Impact on Meaning

Along with the consonance meaning, consonance examples can give you a vivid picture of what is consonance and how you can identify it in poetry or text. 

  • “She sells seashells by the seashore.”

In this line, the repetition of the “s” sound in “sells,” “seashells,” and “seashore” creates a sense of melody. The gentle hiss of the consonants mimics the whispering waves. The consonance in this example not only adds a musical quality to the phrase but also mirrors the soothing rhythm of the tides, emphasising the speaker’s connection to nature and the simplicity of their occupation.

  •  “The wind whistled wildly through the willows.”

In this line, the repetition of the “w” sound in “wind,” “whistled,” “wildly,” and “willows” creates a gusty symphony within the reader’s mind. The soft “w” sounds mimic the whispering breeze dancing through the swaying willow trees. The consonance in this example infuses the line with a musical quality and paints a vivid picture of the untamed natural world, invoking a sense of awe and wonder.

  • Infact, the Lion King’s catchy song “Hakuna Matata” is a great example too. 

  • “It means no worries
  • For the rest of your days
  • It’s our problem-free philosophy
  • Hakuna Matata!”

Differences between consonance and other literary devices: uncover easy tips to identify them

Literary devices add depth and nuance to the written word. Among these devices, consonance stands apart with its mesmerising repetition of consonant sounds, creating a symphony of language. While it may bear similarities to other devices, such as alliteration or assonance, the subtle distinctions set consonance on its unique path, infusing poetry and prose with a distinct musicality and resonance.

Consonance vs. Alliteration: Unravelling Alliteration and Consonance in Poetry

 Alliteration is a poetic device that involves the repetition of initial consonant sounds within a line or stanza. It creates a rhythmic and melodic effect, emphasising certain words or phrases. 

For example:

  • “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
  • Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
  • While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,”-The Raven By Edgar Allan Poe

How Alliteration Differs from Consonance ?

 Although alliteration and consonance involve the repetition of consonant sounds, their placement within words differs. Alliteration focuses on the initial sounds, while consonance encompasses the repetition of consonant sounds anywhere in the words, whether at the beginning, middle, or end. Consonance allows for a broader range of sound repetition, creating a more subtle and varied effect compared to the prominent repetition in alliteration. 

Examples of Alliteration 

  • “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”

 Here, the repeated “s” sound in “Sally,” “sells,” “sea,” and “shells” creates a rhythmic and musical quality. 

  • “Bobby broke the blue balloon.” 

The repetition of the “b” sound in “Bobby,” “broke,” and “blue” adds a playful and rhythmic element.

 Examples of Consonance

  •   “The boat floated on the open ocean.” 

The repetition of the “o” sound in “boat,” “floated,” and “open” creates a soothing and melodic effect. 

Analysis of Impact on Meaning 

 In alliteration, the repetition of initial sounds draws attention to specific words or phrases, creating a unique and rhythmic quality. It can highlight themes, evoke emotions, or emphasise certain poem aspects. On the other hand, consonance, with its more subtle and varied repetition, contributes to the overall musicality and flow of the poem. It enhances the sensory experience, reinforces themes, and adds depth to the meaning by creating a melodic resonance that resonates with the reader.

Consonance vs. Assonance: grasp the difference with examples 

Assonance occurs when vowel sounds are repeated within lines or stanzas. They repeat similar vowel sounds within lines or stanzas. 


 “hear the sweet beat of serene dreams,” where the echoed “ea” sound embraces the senses. 

How Assonance Differs from Consonance 

 While consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds, assonance includes repeating vowel sounds. Consonance plays with the consonants’ nuances, while assonance focuses on the lyrical qualities of vowels. These differences in sound repetition give each device a unique tonal character and contribute to their distinct impact on the poetic landscape. 

Examples of Assonance 

  •  “Hear the mellow wedding bells.” 

In this line, the repetition of the “e” sound in “hear,” “mellow,” and “wedding” creates a soothing and harmonious effect, like a gentle melody caressing our ears. 

Here, the repeated “a” sound in “cat,” “sat,” and “mat” forms a playful and rhythmic quality, evoking a sense of whimsy and simplicity. 

Examples of Consonance 

Analysis of Impact on Meaning | Assonance focuses on vowel repetition and creates a pleasant atmosphere within a poem. It evokes emotions, sets a specific tone, and enhances the musicality of the verses. Consonance, on the other hand, adds a rhythmic quality by repeating consonant sounds, emphasising certain words or creating vivid imagery. Both devices enrich the poem’s meaning by engaging our auditory senses and adding a distinct layer of linguistic artistry. 

Examples of assonance and consonance used in poetry

Assonance in poetry from  I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth

  • A host, of golden daffodils;
  • Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
  • Fluttering and dancing in the breeze…”

We see the alliteration of –o sound – host,  golden, daffodils and the alliteration of –ee sound – beneath,  trees, breeze

Consonance in poetry from ‘Twas later when the summer went’ by Emily Dickinson. 

‘T was later when the summer went
Than when the cricket came,
And yet we knew that gentle clock
Meant nought but going home.

We see  the repetition of ‘m’ sound in the poem. 

Consonance vs. Rhyme: Analysis of their differences and impact on poetry 

 Rhyme occurs when the ending sounds of two or more words match, creating a symphony of repetition. 

How Rhyme Differs from Consonance ?

 Rhyme relies on repeating the final sounds in words, creating a melodic bond between lines and stanzas. Consonance, on the other hand, plays with the repetition of consonant sounds, regardless of their position within words. These divergences infuse each device with its musical character, enriching the poetic landscape in distinctive ways. 

Examples of Rhyme :

  • “She walks in beauty, like the night
  • Of cloudless climes and starry skies.”

Here we see that in the  Lord Byron uses rhyme in  “night” and “skies,”

Examples of Consonance 

  “From the molten-golden notes.” 

The repeated “n” and “t” sounds in this line create a resonant melody, evoking a sense of brightness and richness. 

Consonance vs. Onomatopoeia: their differences and use in poetry

Onomatopoeia adds verses with words that mimic the sounds they represent, such as “buzz,” “crash,” or “hiss,” creating a vivid auditory experience 

How Onomatopoeia Differs from Consonance?

While consonance embraces the repetition of consonant sounds, onomatopoeia ventures further by capturing the essence of the sound itself, immersing readers in the world of sound. Consonance focuses on the musical repetition of consonant sounds, adding a rhythmic quality to the poetry. These distinct approaches offer unique avenues for the poet to engage the reader’s imagination and senses. 

Examples of Onomatopoeia 

  • “The bees buzzed around the blooming flowers.” 

The word “buzzed” imitates the sound of bees in flight, immersing us in the vibrant atmosphere of a bustling garden. 

Examples of Consonance 

  •  “She sells seashells by the seashore.” 

The repetition of the “s” sound in this line adds a sense of rhythm and musicality, mimicking the soothing sound of ocean waves. 

Types of Consonance: get the hang of their definitions with examples

Poets employ consonance in its different forms to amplify their poem and add to its depth. Consonance empowers them to design great works. The types of consonance that we come across in poetry are discussed below.

Initial Consonance: explanation and examples

Initial consonance refers to repeating consonant sounds at the beginning of words. It creates a rhythmic and melodic effect, drawing attention to the emphasised sounds. 

Example of initial consonance from a poem

In the poem ,”Shall I Wasting in Despair” by George Wither, we see repetition of  consonants, including “d,” “f,” and “r,” sounds that unify the poem.

“Great, or good, or kind, or fair, I will ne’er the more despair/ If she love me, this believe/ I will die ere she shall grieve/ If she slight me when I woo/ I can scorn and let her go/ For if she be not for me/ What care I for whom she be?”

End Consonance: definition and examples 

End consonance meaning can be understood as the repetition of consonant sounds at the end of words or within the final stressed syllables of a line in poetry. Poets employ this technique to create a musical and rhythmic effect, adding a sense of cohesion and harmony to their verses.

Example of initial consonance from a poem

In  Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells”, we find the following lines:

“How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night!”

In these lines, the repeated “k” sound in “tinkle” creates an end consonance, as it is repeated at the end of each word. This repetition adds a musical quality to the verse, mimicking the ringing of bells. 

Internal Consonance: meaning and examples in poetry

Internal consonance meaning can be understood as repeating consonant sounds within words, regardless of placement.

By repeating consonant sounds within words, poets can heighten the musicality of their language, making the verse more pleasing to the ear.The 

Example of internal consonance from a poem

In the poem Tyger by William Blake there is  a repetition of the consonant “r,” creating a rhythmic quality to the poem. 

  • “Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
  •  In the forests of the night;
  •  What immortal hand or eye,
  •  Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

Assonance: definition and examples in poetry 

Assonance is a literary device that involves the repetition of vowel sounds within words, regardless of the consonants surrounding them. It adds a musical quality to the writing and contributes to the overall rhythm and tone of a poem or piece of literature.

The Connection to Consonance

 Assonance and consonance are like two siblings in literary devices. While consonance focuses on the repetition of consonant sounds, assonance emphasises the repetition of vowel sounds. Together, they create a symphony of harmony, working hand in hand to craft a delightful auditory experience for the reader.

Examples of Assonance in Poetry

  • “I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless.” – 

In this line by Langston Hughes the repetition of the short “e” sound in “confess,” “quest,” “felt,” “depressed,” and “restless” creates an assonance that contributes to the rhythmic flow of the line.

  • “Hear the mellow wedding bells” 

 Edgar Allan Poe employs the repetition of the long “e” sound in “hear,” “mellow,” and “wedding”. It creates an assonance that enhances the dreamy and romantic atmosphere of the poem.

How to Identify the Types of Consonance :unveiling the secrets with explanations

After comprehending what is consonance and consonance examples, a few strategies for identifying its types are discussed in a straightforward manner. 

  1. Listen with intent: When exploring a poem, tune your ears to the soundscape. Pay attention to repeated consonant sounds at the beginning and end of words and within the lines. By actively listening, you will unlock the clues that lead you to the types of consonance employed.

  2. Observe patterns: Look for ways of repetition. Notice if the same consonant sound occurs consistently throughout the poem or if different sounds are utilised. Analysing patterns can help you identify specific types of consonance and unveil the poet’s deliberate choices.

  3. Distinguish initial, final, and internal: Differentiate between initial, final, and internal consonance. Initial consonance repeats sounds at the beginning of words (like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”). Final consonance repeats sounds at the end of words (like “cat” and “hat”). Internal consonance repeats sounds within terms, regardless of their placement (like “whisper” and “wisdom”). Attention to these variations will sharpen your understanding of the poem’s sonic structure.

  4. Be aware of alliteration: While alliteration is a particular poetic device, it often intertwines with consonance. Notice if repeated consonant sounds also serve as alliteration, emphasising words or phrases for a heightened effect. This overlap adds depth and complexity to the poem’s composition.

  5. Analyse the impact: As you identify the types of consonance, consider how they contribute to the poem’s meaning and overall effect. Reflect on the mood they create, the emphasis they provide, and how they enhance the poem’s rhythm and musicality. This analysis will unlock the poet’s intentions and help you delve deeper into the poem’s significance.

And what better way to be thorough with consonance and its various aspects than to refer to the infographic below! With appealing visuals, you can recapitulate what is consonance quickly. 

consonance infographics

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Key Takeaways

  1. Consonance is a poetic device that involves the repetition of consonant sounds within words.

  2. It adds musicality, rhythm, and emphasis to poetry, creating a pleasing and memorable effect.

  3. Consonance can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of words, resulting in different types of consonance.

  4. Examples of consonance can be found in various forms of literature, including poetry, songs, and speeches.

  5. Different types of consonance, such as initial consonance, end consonance, and internal consonance, contribute to a poem’s overall aesthetic and meaning.

  6. Consonance is distinct from other literary devices like rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia, although they may sometimes overlap.

  7. Identifying consonance in poetry involves recognising the repetition of specific consonant sounds and analysing their impact on the poem’s structure, tone, and imagery.

  8. Consonance enhances the poetic experience by engaging the reader’s auditory senses and creating a harmonious flow of language.

  9. It is essential to consider the purpose and intended effect of consonance within the broader context of the poem.

  10. Exploring and appreciating the creative use of consonance in poetry can deepen our understanding and enjoyment of the art form.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some famous poems that use consonance?

Some of the famous poems that use consonance and can be a great read are: 

  • Arms and the Boy by Wilfred Owen.
  • ‘Twas Later When the Summer Went by Emily Dickinson.
  • Shall I Wasting in Despair by George Wither.
  • Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.
  • Invitation by Shel Silverstein.
  • The Acrobats by Shel Silverstein.
Are there any common misconceptions about consonance?
  • Consonance is the same as rhyme: While both consonance and rhyme involve the repetition of sounds, they are not the same. Rhyme refers explicitly to repeating sounds at the end of words, usually applying both consonant and vowel sounds. Consonance, on the other hand, focuses on the repetition of consonant sounds within terms, regardless of where they occur.

  • Consonance is limited to specific consonant sounds: Some people mistakenly believe that consonance only involves the repetition of certain consonant sounds, such as “s” or “t.” However, consonance can affect any consonant sound, and poets can choose which sounds to repeat based on the desired effect and the poem’s overall theme.
  • Consonance is always intentional: While many instances of consonance in poetry are intentional and purposeful, it is not always the case. Sometimes, the repetition of consonant sounds may occur naturally in the language or inadvertently by the poet. Not all instances of repeated consonant sounds indicate a deliberate use of consonance.
  • Consonance is solely for aesthetic purposes: While consonance contributes to a poem’s aesthetic qualities by adding musicality and rhythm, it serves more than just an ornamental purpose. Consonance can also enhance the meaning and impact of a poem by emphasising certain words or creating specific tones and moods.
Can consonance be used to create musical effects in poetry?

Yes, consonance can indeed be used to create musical effects in poetry. By repeating specific consonant sounds, poets can add a rhythmic and melodic quality to their verses, enhancing the musicality of the language.

Consonance contributes to the overall sonic texture of a poem. It creates patterns, repetitions, and harmonies that engage the reader’s auditory senses, similar to how musical notes and chords create harmony in a composition. The deliberate repetition of consonant sounds at strategic points within a poem can create a pleasing and harmonious effect.

For example, consider the repeated “s” and “w” sounds in these lines from T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”:

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” “Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song.”

The repeated “s” sounds in “show,” “fear,” “softly,” and “dust,” as well as the repeated “w” sounds in “sweet,” “Thames,” “softly,” and “end,” create a musical quality. They establish a rhythm, a flow, and an auditory cohesion that elevate the sensory experience of reading the poem.

How does consonance affect the meaning of a poem?

Consonance can significantly impact the meaning of a poem by adding layers of depth and enhancing the overall effect of the language. Here are a few ways in which consonance affects the importance of a poem:

  1. Emphasising keywords or ideas: When consonant sounds are repeated throughout a poem, they draw attention to specific words or ideas. By emphasising these words through consonance, poets can highlight their significance and invite the reader to pay closer attention to them. This repetition can reinforce the central themes, evoke specific imagery, or underscore the emotional weight of certain words.

  2. Creating mood and tone: Consonance contributes to a poem’s overall mood and style. Different consonant sounds can evoke different emotional responses in the reader. For example, sharp and harsh consonant sounds like “t,” “k,” or “p” can create a sense of tension or urgency, while soft and gentle consonant sounds like “s,” “m,” or “l” can evoke a more soothing or gloomy atmosphere. By selecting specific consonant sounds and employing consonance, poets can shape the emotional landscape of the poem and guide the reader’s interpretation.

  3. Enhancing musicality and rhythm: Consonance adds a musical quality to the poem, creating a sense of rhythm, harmony, and flow. The repetition of consonant sounds contributes to the language’s overall sonic texture. This musicality can enhance the reader’s engagement with the poem, making it more memorable and pleasurable to read. It also aligns with the poem’s thematic content and can mimic natural sounds or reinforce the poetic structure.

  4. Evoking sensory imagery: Consonance, combined with other sensory elements, can help produce vivid imagery in the reader’s mind. The repetition of specific consonant sounds can create an auditory texture. This interplay of consonance and sensory imagery deepens the reader’s immersion in the poem and enriches their understanding of the depicted scenes or experiences.
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