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


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noun combining form

: body characterized by (such) a state

Examples of trope in a Sentence

Noun a screenplay that reads like a catalog of mystery-thriller tropes
Recent Examples on the Web
Yes, and their common thread seems to be critics who enjoyed that the film was at least trying to deliver something different than simply following the usual and all-too-familiar Marvel-DC playbook of tropes. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2024 In addition, a slide depicted a hand manipulating a puppet, recalling antisemitic tropes about secret Jewish control of government, the media and finance. Dana Goldstein, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Playing with workwear tropes, patchwork and double-pocket details in textural fabrics, Lo’s interest in the 90s and hip-hop culture shines through the collection’s slouchy shapes. Gemma A. Williams, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2024 There’s a throbbing personal heart under the tropes, though. Ty Burr, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 The Midnight Sky is familiar in its use of genre tropes, but Clooney's soulful performance brings a welcome warmth to this cold vision of Earth's future. Randall Colburn,, 25 Jan. 2024 Of course, tunnels have prominently figured in conspiracist propaganda before — and the trope seems to have reemerged during the last two presidential election cycles. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 4 Feb. 2024 Misidentifying Black people and other people of color can play into racist tropes by suggesting non-White people all look alike. Ramishah Maruf, CNN, 2 Feb. 2024 Chinn teases us with the tropes of the high school genre. Lisa Kennedy, Variety, 25 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trope.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near trope

Cite this Entry

“Trope.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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