Definition of trope in US English:



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

    ‘he used the two-Americas trope to explain how a nation free and democratic at home could act wantonly abroad’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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’.’
      • ‘All those things are the tropes of a reductive idea about what is woman and female.’
      • ‘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.’


[no object]
  • Create a trope.

    • ‘The poetic, as I remarked earlier, is not, for Wittgenstein, a question of heightening, of removing language from its everyday use by means of appropriate troping or rhetorical device.’
    • ‘In other words, the natural world becomes visible only to the extent that it has been colored; that is, troped by our desire, which denaturalizes it, turns it into the trope through which it signifies itself.’
    • ‘The disembodied voice of echo is troped as feminine because of its emptiness, its belatedness, and its inability to signify except in relation to an already established discourse.’
    • ‘For Morrison, however, while troping her predecessors' unhomed terror, vertigo becomes a zone of potentiality offering rehabituation in a diasporic landscape that affirms the dislocated and untranslatable aspects of diaspora.’
    • ‘Beatrice's tactic in wit is to trope the object of her scorn into its satirical extreme, defined here by Hero as its opposite.’


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