\ 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

Examples of trope in a Sentence

Noun a screenplay that reads like a catalog of mystery-thriller tropes
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There’s no battered babysitter, no psycho stalker, no trope-y ’80s clichés in sight—except for those being completely slashed and reimagined by their director. Deanna Janes, Harper's BAZAAR, 16 May 2022 The most important thing for us wasn’t just the idea of a superhero, but the idea of making her completely the opposite of every trope about Arab woman as submissive or weak. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 4 May 2022 That's such a fun play on the fairytale trope that made for a cute moment., 1 May 2022 The comments irked many and was criticized by several Asian American parents and community members as biased, playing on the model minority trope and shortchanging students for their academic achievement. Charles T. Clarkcolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 This Brenda is not perfect, which does not exclude her from the dead-wife trope in and of itself. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 29 Apr. 2022 Presumably, the conventions of the female boss-from-hell are so borderline-regressive that Robertson decided to skip the trope entirely. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Apr. 2022 Fueled by intense gazes and lingering touches, Bridgerton season 2 fully bodied the classic enemies-to-lovers trope as the slow burn tension between Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) and Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) plagued us to the very end. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 9 Apr. 2022 The welfare reform movement of the mid-1990s, and the work requirements subsequently attached to many social programs, relied heavily on the trope of lazy overreliance on the government dime. Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trope.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on trope

Nglish: Translation of trope for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trope for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about trope


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