Consonance

Breaking Down Consonance

Consonance (derives from Latin, literally means “to harmonize”), is the literary scheme for repetition of the final and identical consonants in adjacent words whose preceding vowel sounds are different.

    For example:
  • √  words such as sing – rang, won – ran, dash – fish, laugh – tough, add – read,
  • √  phrases like odds and ends, first and last, a stroke of luck, etc.

Consonance like alliterationOpens in new window, and assonanceOpens in new window, is more properly a term associated with modern poetry than with historical rhetorical terminology.

It is a common thing to find consonance in poems, prose, slogans and newspaper headings. As a matter of fact, consonance is often employed together with other figures of speech as shown in the following examples.

Notable Examples of Consonance
  • It seemed hat out of battle I escaped,
    Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
    Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
    Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
    Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
    Then, as I probed them, one sprang up and stared
    With pitiless recognition in fixed eyes,
    Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
    And by his smile, if knew that sullen hall,
    By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
  • — Wilfred Owen.
  • The most important lesson of all is that political will
    matters even more than military skill.
  • —(slogan)

    In this example, both consonance and alliteration are employed: [l] as in all, will and skill –  consonance;
    [m] as in most, matters, more and military –  alliteration.
  • Women: Don’t Agonize, Organize.
  • — (Newspaper heading)

    here, [ z ] and [ ai ] in agonize and organizeare consonance as well as assonance.
  • Farms Not Arms
  • — (Newspaper heading)

    here also; [ z ] and [ α: ] as in farms and arms – these are both consonance, and assonance.

The employment of all these figures at the same time can make a speech or writing more rhythmic and more appealing. More examples below:

  • When I lent I was a friend, when I asked I was unkind.
  • Here,( [ t ] in lent and asked, [ d ] in friend and unkind; are – consonance)
  • There is the clear mellow clang of the trolley gongs, the musical trill of fast wagon wheels running along the trolley rails, and the rattle of hoofs on the cobbled strip between the metals.
  • — Christopher Morley

    In the above lines, ( [ w ] in wagon and wheels are – alliteration; whereas, [ z ] in wheels, rails, and metals is – consonance).
  • The 21st century executive must be a global strategist: working as deftly in Tokyo as in Toledo, he sees – then seizes – markets worldwide.
  • — Clemens P. Work

    ( [ t ] in Tokyo and Toledo and [ s ]as in see and seize – alliteration; [ z ] as in sees and seizes – consonance; [ i: ] as in see and seize – alliteration; [ z ] as in sees and seizes - consonance; [ əu ] as Tokyo and Toledo – assonance )