noun \ˈa-lə-ˌgr-ē\

: a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation

plural al·le·go·ries

Full Definition of ALLEGORY

:  the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence; also :  an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression
:  a symbolic representation :  emblem 2

Examples of ALLEGORY

  1. the long poem is an allegory of love and jealousy
  2. a writer known for his use of allegory
  3. Luther dismissed this mystical reading of the creative act as mere allegory. But for Augustine the six days are not just a rhetorical trope. They are unlike the figurative language of the curse on the snake. To say that Christ is a shepherd is a metaphor; but to say that he is light is literal, since physical light is a shadow of the real light spoken of in Genesis. —Garry Wills, Under God, 1990

Origin of ALLEGORY

Middle English allegorie, from Latin allegoria, from Greek allēgoria, from allēgorein to speak figuratively, from allos other + -ēgorein to speak publicly, from agora assembly — more at else, agora
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Literature Terms

apophasis, bathos, bildungsroman, bowdlerize, caesura, coda, doggerel, euphemism, poesy, prosody


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Work of written, oral, or visual expression that uses symbolic figures, objects, and actions to convey truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience. It encompasses such forms as the fable and parable. Characters often personify abstract concepts or types, and the action of the narrative usually stands for something not explicitly stated. Symbolic allegories, in which characters may also have an identity apart from the message they convey, have frequently been used to represent political and historical situations and have long been popular as vehicles for satire. Edmund Spenser's long poem The Faerie Queen is a famous example of a symbolic allegory.


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