A literary trope is the use of figurative language. For example, the sitting United States administration might be referred to as "Washington". Since the 1970s, the word has also come to mean a commonly recurring literary device, motif, or cliché.
The term trope had its first known use in English during 1533 and it derives from the Greek τρόπος (tropos), "turn, direction, way", derived from the verb τρέπειν (trepein), "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change".
Rhetoricians have closely analyzed the great variety of "turns and twists" used in poetry and literature and have provided an extensive list of precise labels for these poetic devices. Examples include:
For a longer list, see Figure of speech: Tropes.
- Allegory — A sustained metaphor continued through whole sentences or even through a whole discourse. For example: "The ship of state has sailed through rougher storms than the tempest of these lobbyists."
- Antanaclasis — is the stylistic trope of repeating a single word, but with a different meaning each time. Antanaclasis is a common type of pun, and like other kinds of pun, it is often found in slogans.
- Irony — creating a trope through implying the opposite of the standard meaning, such as describing a bad situation as "good times".
- Metaphor — an explanation of an object or idea through juxtaposition of disparate things with a similar characteristic, such as describing a courageous person as having a "heart of a lion".
- Metonymy — a trope through proximity or correspondence. For example, referring to actions of the U.S. President as "actions of the White House".
- Synecdoche — related to metonymy and metaphor, creates a play on words by referring to something with a related concept: for example, referring to the whole with the name of a part, such as "hired hands" for workers; a part with the name of the whole, such as "the law" for police officers; the general with the specific, such as "bread" for food; the specific with the general, such as "cat" for a lion; or an object with the material it is made from, such as "bricks and mortar" for a building.
See also 
References and sources 
- ^ Miller (1990). Tropes, Parables, and Performatives. Duke University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0822311119.
- ^ a b "trope", Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2009, retrieved 2009-10-16
- ^ "trope (draft entry)", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 2007