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A figure of speech. Childers and Hentzi say that “The major figures that are agreed upon as being tropes are metaphor, simile, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, personification, and hyperbole, litotes and periphrasis are also sometimes called tropes”(309). A simile uses figurative speech in a way that compares two things using the words “like or as”. An example would be, The party was packed tight like a can of sardines. Cuddon stated that “...the most famous instance of such an interpolation was the Quem quaeritis (q.V) trope preceding the Introit on Easter Sunday”(222). Lucas says that “Some common descriptive tropes are portraits (word pictures) or descriptions of actions which somehow appeal to the senses of a reader” (Earthshine).

The idea of what trope is has been debated numerous times. Baldick states that “The theory of rhetoric has involved several disputed attempts to clarify the distinction between tropes (or figures of thought) and schemes (or figures of speech)” (264). It has been established that tropes change the meaning of words “by a turn’ of sense” (Baldick 264).

Literary Terms

Works Cited

  • Baldick, Chris. Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Childers, Joseph and Gary Hentzi, ed. The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism. New York: Columbia University, 1995.
  • Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 4th ed. England: Penguin Books, 1998.
  • Ed. Dr. Gerald R. Lucas. July 2005. Sept. 2006. <>