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
  1. noun
    language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense
    synonyms: 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
    a compound word used as a conventional metaphorical name for something, specially 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')
    a figure of speech in which part of something is used to refer to or represent the whole thing (or vice versa)
    use of a word to govern two or more words though appropriate to only one
    a figure of speech in which an author appeals to more than one of the five senses
    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
    verbal irony
    when the intended meaning of a speaker’s words contrasts with the literal meaning
    situational irony
    when the result of an event or action is the opposite of what was intended or expected
    type of:
    rhetorical device
    a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
  2. noun
    a common or clichéd plot device, idea, or theme in a creative work
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