\ 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 Especially during Reconstruction, the trope served to continue the dehumanization of Black women following slavery and to reify white womanhood, Lindsey said. NBC News, "Race, gender dominated coverage of Harris's VP announcement, report finds," 14 Oct. 2020 Instead of focusing on their messages, Hume employed the racist trope of the angry Black woman. Sarah Midkiff,, "This Fox News Comparison Of Jill Biden & Michelle Obama Is Flat-Out Racist," 19 Aug. 2020 Of course, such overreach does not negate the trope that Mr. Biden is indeed an inconsistent debater at times. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, "Of Course, the Debate Was Always Going to Be About Trump," 30 Sep. 2020 An inevitable trope of the teenage dramedy is being caught masturbating by your parents. Flora Tsapovsky,, "Amid pandemic isolation, audio erotica is having a moment," 11 Sep. 2020 Handwringing over the possible demise of urban life has become an established trope of the pandemic. Fortune, "What would a ‘feminist city’ look like?," 10 July 2020 In the first season’s standout episode, which skewers pro-war 9/11 films, a passenger plane is commandeered by terrorists, who, in the way of the trope, are all brown skin and placeless grievance. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "The Giddily Twisted Action of “The Boys”," 21 Sep. 2020 There are some exceptions to that particular rule—think Ramona Flowers in one of my favorite films of 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—but for the most part, the MPDG's disposability is one of the most dangerous and damaging aspects of the trope. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, "The ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ Isn’t Dead—She Has Just Evolved," 25 Aug. 2020 The trope of the defense attorney as arbiter of moral justice may be the show’s most enduring influence, at least as important as the structural formula the show established. Jacqui Shine, Smithsonian Magazine, "What Perry Mason Taught Americans About the Criminal Justice System," 19 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

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trope.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 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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