Guide to Literary Terms

Start Your Free Trial

Download Guide to Literary Terms Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Diction

Diction refers to an author or speaker’s choice of words. The diction used in a text often changes based on context or setting and helps to convey the writer’s tone and meaning while setting the mood. Diction can be divided into two main categories: formal and informal.

Formal diction typically involves elevated language, a lofty tone, complex words, an adherence to the traditional rules of syntax and grammar, and an absence of contractions.

Correct example:

  • “That is no country for old men. The young In one another’s arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long...

(The entire section is 230 words.)