A trope is a word used in a nonliteral sense to create a powerful image. If you say, "Chicago's worker bees buzz around the streets," you're using a trope. Workers aren't literally bees, but it suggests how fast they move.

Trope refers to different types of figures of speech, such as puns, metaphors, and similes. Each has its own particular structure, but in each case the actual meaning is different from the literal, dictionary sense. Trope is also used in a more general sense to describe a convention that you can easily recognize and understand because you've seen it so often. For example a TV cop show might use the trope of police vs. thieves to talk about larger issues.

Definitions of trope

n language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense

figure, figure of speech, image
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an elaborate poetic image or a far-fetched comparison of very dissimilar things
a trope that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs
exaggeration, hyperbole
extravagant exaggeration
conventional metaphoric name for something, used especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry
a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity
substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in `they counted heads')
conjoining contradictory terms (as in `deafening silence')
personification, prosopopoeia
representing an abstract quality or idea as a person or creature
a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with `like' or `as')
substituting a more inclusive term for a less inclusive one or vice versa
use of a word to govern two or more words though appropriate to only one
dramatic irony
(theater) irony that occurs when the meaning of the situation is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play
dead metaphor, frozen metaphor
a metaphor that has occurred so often that it has become a new meaning of the expression (e.g., `he is a snake' may once have been a metaphor but after years of use it has died and become a new sense of the word `snake')
mixed metaphor
a combination of two or more metaphors that together produce a ridiculous effect
synesthetic metaphor
a metaphor that exploits a similarity between experiences in different sense modalities
substituting metonymy of one figurative sense for another
use of a word to govern two or more words though agreeing in number or case etc. with only one
Type of:
rhetorical device
a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)

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