Definition of allegory in English:



  • 1A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

    ‘Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory of the spiritual journey’
    • ‘The interactions between the characters in Springtime obviously form a political allegory, but rarely have I seen allegorical conceits that were as likeable as these characters are.’
    • ‘Some feminist critics have interpreted Frankenstein as an allegory of childbirth which, in this case, is the product of solitary male propagation, being the proverbial scientist's brain child.’
    • ‘My first response upon rereading the book, largely thanks to my current preoccupations, was to interpret the story as an allegory about writing fiction.’
    • ‘Throw Away Kids was three interwoven stories presenting as an allegory of the experience of Native people the world over.’
    • ‘I've been thinking about Kafka's ‘Metamorphosis’, a story which is an allegory about how we view those who are chronically ill.’
    • ‘Lyly's play uses the myth to present a political allegory of Philip of Spain, by giving Midas and his courtiers what was considered by a contemporary English audience to be a specifically Spanish characteristic: the desire for gold.’
    • ‘For those who don't know, the story is a futuristic allegory of the Arab Revolt familiar to most through the film Lawrence of Arabia.’
    • ‘A story is an allegory of real life; the characters are allegories of real people, since you only take the important parts of their lives.’
    • ‘Lewis repeatedly denied that the Narnia stories were allegories.’
    • ‘If you had sat through that entire game, and had experienced something of that season, you would have known that this home run was a great moment, yes, but one in a long story - not an allegory nor morality tale.’
    • ‘John Ford's classic western, starring John Wayne, is a political allegory about how ‘civilisation’ managed to conquer America's Wild West.’
    • ‘It is, for example, perfectly possible to read the poem as an allegory not of war but of the ‘war’ between the sexes.’
    • ‘No one would want to be so foolish as to suggest that this poem is an allegory of trouble in the Church.’
    • ‘My university education had transformed me into a theistic evolutionist, one who believed that God intended the Genesis account of creation to be an allegory picturing the total evolution of the cosmos.’
    • ‘Later works, like The Croquet Player, are fables or political allegories.’
    • ‘Panofsky argued that to understand any piece of Renaissance art it was necessary to understand its subject matter: images, stories, and allegories.’
    • ‘At a news conference, Lucas acknowledged the political allegories of the saga, which could have contemporary resonance although he wrote it at the time of the Nixon era.’
    • ‘It can, and has, also been interpreted as an allegory of the political, economic and social adventures of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.’
    • ‘You could read the relationship as a love story or an allegory of two sides struggling to come together - East and West, Christian and Muslim, the have and the have-not - against the creeping influence of negativity.’
    • ‘I believe that categorizing this story as an allegory is more appropriate than doing so as a myth because a myth is defined as explaining natural phenomenon.’
    parable, analogy, metaphor, symbol, emblem
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    1. 1.1 A symbol.
      • ‘Wajda's sewer rats swarmed onwards as allegory: they eventually emerged not from a Warsaw manhole, but a manhole on Wall Street.’
      • ‘Simply put, Burns reads pictures as allegories of class interest and identity.’
      • ‘Your dreams are full of symbols and allegories.’
      • ‘And it's a story that expects us to take the superhero at face value; this boy-spider is not an allegory for anything, not a symbol for a class of people or culture.’
      • ‘A thoughtfully chosen group of paintings ranging from personal allegories to landscapes to portraits simultaneously revealed Beckmann's individuality and his debt to both the art of the past and of his own day.’
      • ‘He mediates through symbols, metaphors, allegories and metonymy to transmute his experiences of the phenomenal world.’
      • ‘But then comes the coded ending, and you realize that Bagger is a symbol, an allegory, a pillar of life, death and whatever else.’
      • ‘Miller had been absent from the stage since The Crucible, in which he used the Salem witch trials as allegory for McCarthyism.’
      • ‘These are not candidates who represent ideas and programs so much as allegories representing human weaknesses and failings.’
      emblem, token, sign, representation, figure, image, type
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Late Middle English: from Old French allegorie, via Latin from Greek allēgoria, from allos ‘other’ + -agoria ‘speaking’.