Definition of trope in English:



  • 1A figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression.

    ‘both clothes and illness became tropes for new attitudes toward the self’
    ‘my sense that philosophy has become barren is a recurrent trope of modern philosophy’
    ‘perhaps it is a mistake to use tropes and parallels in this eminently unpoetic age’
    • ‘And, among these resources, the ‘colors’ of rhetorical tropes figure prominently, as the lavish profusion of colors which marks the first half of the text suggests.’
    • ‘No longer will one or two tropes or metaphors serve to characterize the poetic work done by women.’
    • ‘Putting metaphor and other tropes in a rather remote place, he propounded another aspect of figurative language as absolutely essential to the sublime.’
    • ‘The scrolls and the codex of the two novels are maps for the reader in linking the tropes, metaphors, and themes of each novel in a non-linear coherence.’
    • ‘From this perspective, it's not that there is no distinction between literal and figurative but rather that tropes and figures are fundamental structures of language, not exceptions and distortions.’
    1. 1.1A significant or recurrent theme; a motif.
      ‘she uses the Eucharist as a pictorial trope’
      • ‘All those things are the tropes of a reductive idea about what is woman and female.’
      • ‘The most disturbing of these tropes is the idea that ‘combat’ is ‘the highest form of manliness’.’
      • ‘The relative absence of conventional musical tropes doesn't mean, though, that the group approaches compositional matters indifferently.’
      • ‘I'm glad to see that, in this article at least, that trope has been toned down to ask what role those elements might play in these crimes.’
      • ‘This is another familiar trope - riddled with conspiratorial whispers as it is.’


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek tropos turn, way, trope, from trepein to turn.