The effect of an alliteration is to add artistic style to a poem or other literary form. An alliteration creates a musical quality when reading or reciting text and makes poetry and prose more appealing and entertaining. An alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sound that typically occurs at the beginning of words appearing in a series.
A poetic phrase that contains stressed syllables based on the poem's meter is also alliterative. Classic poetry often employs alliteration, such as Emily Dickinson's "The soul selects her own society."
An alliteration is created by the sound of consonants, not the actual letters. For instance, words containing consonants with similar sounds, such as s and c, are often used to form alliterations. A hard consonant at the beginning of a word can form an alliteration with a word starting with a soft consonant. This occurs in the classic tongue-twister “she sells seashells down by the seashore.” Alliteration is derived from the Latin word "latira," which means letters of the alphabet.
In addition to appearing in literary poetry and prose, alliterations are often found in common expressions and nursery rhymes. Companies use alliterations in their advertising slogans to attract sales, such as "shop at Sears and save." Alliterative company names, like Bed, Bath and Beyond, are commonly used to make the brand more memorable to customers.