Rhetorical Device: Consonance

Consonance is a literary device that involves the repetition of consonant sounds within a phrase or sentence. It creates a sonic effect that can be used to emphasize words or draw attention to ideas. Consonance is used often in poetry and can be a powerful tool to evoke emotion by making the words seem musical and rhythmical. Consonance can also create a sense of unity, creating a repetition of sounds that is pleasing to the ears and lends a sense of order and structure to the sentence.

Alliteration is a sub-type of consonance, when two or more consonant sounds repeat at the beginning of nearby words.


A little more than kin, and less than kind. William Shakespeare, "Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 2"

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price.. John F. Kennedy, "Inaugural Address" (20 January 1961)

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. John F. Kennedy, "Inaugural Address" (20 January 1961)

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Holy Bible (King James Version), "Psalm 23"
WWS rhetorical device explainer card on consonance

I see the ten thousand villages of Russia, where the means of existence was wrung so hardly from the soil, but where there are still primordial human joys, where maidens laugh and children play. I see advancing upon all this in hideous onslaught the Nazi war machine, with its clanking, heel-clicking, dandified Prussian officers, its crafty expert agents fresh from the cowing and tying-down of a dozen countries. I see also the dull, drilled, docile, brutish masses of the Hun soldiery plodding on like a swarm of crawling locusts. I see the German bombers and fighters in the sky, still smarting from many a British whipping, delighted to find what they believe is an easier and a safer prey. Winston Churchill, "Germany’s Invasion of Russia" (22 June 1941)

Further reading

  • Silva Rhetoricæ: The Forest of Rhetoric Visit
  • LitCharts: Consonance Visit
  • studiobinder: What is consonance Visit