Definition of topos in English:



  • A traditional theme or formula in literature.

    ‘it is not easy to distinguish fact from topos in these documents’
    • ‘Action is the masculine force of narrative, femininity the topoi and telos of its trajectory.’
    • ‘Irony has a critical function against an empty or insipid Romanticism and romantic topoi, for instance the Parisian dream and, moreover, the Orient that has become a commonplace.’
    • ‘In other words, the usual epideictic speech inculcates values, while these political songs employed values as topoi for a purpose more typical of deliberative speech.’
    • ‘In this sense, his amalgamated rhetoric fuses a wide variety of traditions, topoi, and strategies in service of persuasion fashioned to galvanize oppositional thought in a common cause.’
    • ‘This embedded chain of monuments builds a meaningful sequence of events, turning the wild nature of death into mythical history based on Renaissance topoi and Homeric myth.’
    • ‘‘A Century's Aged, Worn-out Children’ summarizes what has gone before by identifying a series of changes that define the fourteenth century and underlie its characteristic forms and topoi.’
    • ‘In entering intellectual life contrary to patriarchal norms, women in turn can be seen as consolidating another norm, which, although ‘feminine,’ combines old and new genealogies for topoi of disembodiment.’
    • ‘Scenarios, incidentally, that depend generally on language for their structure and arguably literature for their topoi.’
    • ‘Perhaps most usefully, however, the book offers a repertoire of rhetorical suggestions, topoi for the specific topic of rhetoric (hence the Aristotelian force of the title-it is a Rhetoric of Rhetoric for rhetoricians).’
    • ‘Clearly, then, by the middle of the 1860s certain Chinese topoi had emerged in the poetry composed in Parnassian circles.’
    • ‘Yet the ‘code’ of mythological topoi does not suggest fixed meanings and interpretations allegorically assigned to the mythical stories.’
    • ‘Moreover, this pattern of resemblance is rendered still more striking by the prominent appearance of mock-heroic topoi and diction in both poems.’
    • ‘In persuasive song and epideictic speech alike, however, the use of the topoi of praise and blame, coupled with the substitution of performance for evidence, remains interesting to the student of political rhetoric.’
    • ‘In the Anatomy, ideas, topoi, modes, and kinds fell into co-ordinated, complementary distributions, or lattice-work of dialectical oppositions and counterparts.’
    • ‘These three topoi can be varied in countless ways to create a riveting narrative.’
    • ‘He supported his argument with familiar anti-Athenian topoi.’
    • ‘Although the ‘Elegy’ references the topoi of pastoral elegy, it steers far clear of its traditional end.’
    • ‘These are traditional Renaissance topoi of the fortune-telling of the natural world; nonetheless, they underscore the patriarchal view of Egypt's troubles as stemming, naturally, from women.’
    • ‘Isocrates cannot simply repeat the topoi of Athenian speeches in praise of the city.’
    • ‘These songs appealed to common ground and shared values as topoi, but not as uplifting principles for emulation.’


1940s: from Greek, literally ‘place’.