\ 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 By applying the common anti-capitalist trope, that greed drives companies, to what has been an act of national collaboration, pride, and selflessness on behalf of many, Boris shoots the capitalist cause in the foot. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Leverage, Leverage, Leverage," 31 Mar. 2021 Falsehoods about busloads and planeloads of antifa activists traveling the nation to sow violence became a common trope on right-wing internet sites, even prompting some Americans to ask local law enforcement for help. New York Times, "How Pro-Trump Forces Pushed a Lie About Antifa at the Capitol Riot," 1 Mar. 2021 Standup comedians push such buttons all the time, but the trope is beyond rare in serious museums. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Sorrows of Black America," 22 Feb. 2021 No longer only a sci-fi trope, automation has turned mainstream. Serenity Gibbons, Forbes, "3 Trends In Workflow Automation To Keep Up With," 18 Mar. 2021 In 2017, an ad for Dove body wash showed a Black woman removing her shirt to reveal a White woman in the next frame — which seemed to emanate a racist trope from historical soap ads., "Kia tells owners of recalled cars to park them outside until repairs are made," 10 Mar. 2021 Cuoco gives this physical recklessness some meaning, thereby humanizing a trope. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "A Hot Mess Caught in a Caper in “The Flight Attendant”," 28 Dec. 2020 In her latest book, writer and professor Peace Adzo Medie puts a wonderfully contemporary spin on a fairytale trope. Joan Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘His Only Wife’ turns fairytale tropes upside down," 10 Nov. 2020 That may be because social media stars do not fit into the classic trope of celebrity, says Mr. Jenner. Shafi Musaddique, The Christian Science Monitor, "Famous for good reason? Britain elevates do-gooders to celebrities.," 15 Mar. 2021

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

13 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trope.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for trope



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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