A literary trope is the usage of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning. The term trope derives from the Greek τρόπος - tropos "turn, direction, way", related to the root of the verb τρέπειν (trepein), "to turn, to direct, to alter, to change".
Rhetoricians have closely analyzed the bewildering array of "turns and twists" used in poetry and literature and have provided an extensive list of precise labels for these poetic devices. Some examples include:
For a longer list, see Rhetorical remedies.
Since the 1970s, the word has also come to mean a commonly recurring motif or device, a cliché. However, there has been some push back towards trope being a synonym for cliche and is now used to denote something that, while similar in definition, does not carry the stigma that cliche currently does (i.e. a trope has not been done to the point of exhaustion at which it would become cliche).
- Trope (linguistics)
- Figure of speech
- Fantasy tropes and conventions
- TV Tropes, a wiki dedicated to elements that are present among multiple works and authors and how stories use them. The word "trope" there has a different meaning than here.
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