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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘No longer will one or two tropes or metaphors serve to characterize the poetic work done by women.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Putting metaphor and other tropes in a rather remote place, he propounded another aspect of figurative language as absolutely essential to the sublime.’
    1. 1.1 A significant or recurrent theme; a motif.
      ‘she uses the Eucharist as a pictorial trope’
      • ‘The most disturbing of these tropes is the idea that ‘combat’ is ‘the highest form of manliness’.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All those things are the tropes of a reductive idea about what is woman and female.’
      • ‘This is another familiar trope - riddled with conspiratorial whispers as it is.’
      • ‘The relative absence of conventional musical tropes doesn't mean, though, that the group approaches compositional matters indifferently.’


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