allegory

The figurative style known as allegory has nothing to do with alligators — unless you're telling a story where alligators represent evil forces snapping at humanity.

An allegory is like a metaphor on steroids: a writer tells a fictional story where everything and everyone in it is supposed to represent a deeper meaning. Using a plain old metaphor, you might call death "the grim reaper," but an allegory might build a whole tale of how the grim reaper goes around in a black cloak and informs people of their impending doom. Aesop's Fables are allegories, with animals taking the place of different human character types — though Aesop never wrote an allegory about an alligator.

Definitions of allegory
  1. noun
    a short moral story (often with animal characters)
    synonyms: apologue, fable, parable
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    examples:
    Pilgrim's Progress
    an allegory written by John Bunyan in 1678
    types:
    Aesop's fables
    a collection of fables believed to have been written by the Greek storyteller Aesop
    type of:
    story
    a piece of fiction that narrates a chain of related events
  2. noun
    a visible symbol representing an abstract idea
    synonyms: emblem
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 25 types...
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    scarlet letter
    the letter A in red; Puritans required adulterers to wear it
    cupid
    a symbol for love in the form of a cherubic naked boy with wings and a bow and arrow
    donkey
    the symbol of the Democratic Party; introduced in cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1874
    dove
    an emblem of peace
    eagle
    an emblem representing power
    elephant
    the symbol of the Republican Party; introduced in cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1874
    fasces
    bundle of rods containing an axe with the blade protruding; in ancient Rome it was a symbol of a magistrate's power; in modern Italy it is a symbol of fascism
    ensign, national flag
    an emblem flown as a symbol of nationality
    hammer and sickle
    the emblem on the flag of the Soviet Union
    red flag
    the emblem of socialist revolution
    Magen David, Mogen David, Shield of David, Solomon's seal, Star of David
    a six-pointed star formed from two equilateral triangles; an emblem symbolizing Judaism
    badge
    an emblem (a small piece of plastic or cloth or metal) that signifies your status (rank or membership or affiliation etc.)
    Agnus Dei, Paschal Lamb
    figure of a lamb; emblematic of Christ
    maple-leaf
    the emblem of Canada
    medallion
    an emblem indicating that a taxicab is registered
    spread eagle
    an emblem (an eagle with wings and legs spread) on the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States
    Hakenkreuz, swastika
    the official emblem of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich; a cross with the arms bent at right angles in a clockwise direction
    merit badge
    a badge award to Boy Scouts in recognition of special projects
    insignia
    a badge worn to show official position
    I.D., ID
    a card or badge used to identify the bearer
    black belt
    a black sash worn to show expert standards in the martial arts (judo or karate)
    blue ribbon, cordon bleu
    an honor or award gained for excellence
    button
    a round flat badge displaying information and suitable for pinning onto a garment
    chevron, grade insignia, stripe, stripes
    V-shaped sleeve badge indicating military rank and service
    stripe
    a piece of braid, usually on the sleeve, indicating military rank or length of service
    type of:
    symbol, symbolic representation, symbolisation, symbolization
    something visible that by association or convention represents something else that is invisible
  3. noun
    an expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances; an extended metaphor
    see moresee less
    type of:
    expressive style, style
    a way of expressing something (in language or art or music etc.) that is characteristic of a particular person or group of people or period
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