\ ˈtrōp How to pronounce trope (audio) \

Definition of trope

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a word or expression used in a figurative sense : figure of speech
b : a common or overused theme or device : cliché the usual horror movie tropes
2 : a phrase or verse added as an embellishment or interpolation to the sung parts of the Mass in the Middle Ages

Definition of -trope (Entry 2 of 2)

: body characterized by (such) a state allotrope

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Examples of trope in a Sentence

Noun a screenplay that reads like a catalog of mystery-thriller tropes
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun How watermelon was lost to racist cruelty Watermelon, along with other red foods, are traditional fare for Juneteenth celebrations — but in most circles, watermelon, and images of Black people with or eating them, has long been a racist trope. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "On this Juneteenth, many Americans celebrate for the first time," 19 June 2020 Another common trope depicts poachers as male, greedy, gun-toting African criminals. Candace Famiglietti, The Conversation, "Python skin jackets and elephant leather boots: How wealthy Western nations help drive the global wildlife trade," 19 June 2020 Below, Pochoda spoke with Refinery29 about These Women, the banality of serial killers, and avoiding the trope of fetishizing violent men. Leah Carroll,, "How Ivy Pochoda Resisted The Trap Of The “Dead Girl Industrial Complex”," 28 May 2020 Upon seeing it, Fergus vomits profusely — a moment that turned into a trope that still haunts trans characters in films like Ace Ventura and shows like Family Guy. Nick Romano,, "After Trump and J.K. Rowling, Laverne Cox sees Disclosure as a tool for change," 16 June 2020 In recent years, this trope has played out, to give just one example, in Black actresses playing therapists to white TV characters. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "Gone With the Wind," 12 June 2020 Critics have long said that the slaves are depicted as well-treated, content, and loyal to their masters, a trope that rewrites the reality of how enslaved people were forced to live. Daniel Victor,, "HBO Max pulls ‘Gone With the Wind,’ citing racist depictions," 10 June 2020 Brees was simply regurgitating the same slanderous trope that the NFL has hidden behind since the summer of 2016. Ann Killion,, "Saints’ Brees apologizes, but still doesn’t understand the reason for kneeling," 4 June 2020 The outsider-as-danger trope has been especially strong in recent months of the coronavirus pandemic, when outsiders have been portrayed as vectors of contagion. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "During Nationwide Protests, Politicians Resort to the “Outside Agitator” Trope," 2 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trope.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of trope


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for trope


borrowed from Latin tropus "figure of speech" (Medieval Latin, "embellishment to the sung parts of the Mass"), borrowed from Greek trópos "turn, way, manner, style, figurative expression," noun derivative from the base of trépein "to turn," probably going back to Indo-European *trep-, whence also Sanskrit trapate "(s/he) is ashamed, becomes perplexed," Hittite te-ri-ip-zi "(s/he) ploughs"

Note: Also compared is Latin trepit, glossed as vertit "(s/he) turns," but as this form is only attested in the lexicon of the grammarian Sextus Pompeius Festus, it may be a reconstruction based on the Greek word. The word tropes (genitive case) in the Old English translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History is an isolated instance; the word was reborrowed from Latin or Greek in the 16th century.

Noun combining form

borrowed from Greek -tropos "turned, directed, living (in the manner indicated), adjective derivative of trópos "turn, way, manner, style" — more at trope

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Time Traveler for trope

Time Traveler

The first known use of trope was before the 12th century

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Statistics for trope

Last Updated

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trope.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for trope


How to pronounce -trope (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of trope

technical : a word, phrase, or image used in a new and different way in order to create an artistic effect

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