Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: trope.

trope. “Trope” (/trohp/) means (1) a figure of speech, esp. a word or phrase used metaphorically, or (2) a motif. Sense 1 is the traditional one — e.g.: “And yet he has held on to the trope of product-launch-as-birth; as recently as the days following the launch of the iPhone, he surprised someone who’s known him for more than a decade by speaking of the laborlike ’emotional trauma’ of bringing the iPhone to market.” Tom Junod, “Steve Jobs and the Portal to the Invisible,” Esquire, 1 Oct. 2008, at 185. But the second sense is far more common in American English print sources today: e.g. — “‘Nick & Norah’ is clearly more mainstream and formulaic than ‘Victor Vargas.’ . . . But [Peter] Sollett is able to take familiar teen tropes and transform them into low-key magic.” David Ansen, “Love Me, Love My Mix Tape,” Newsweek, 6 Oct. 2008, at 58. And even that sense has itself become more of a trope in the traditional meaning: the sense is often closer to “cliché” than “motif.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Try to get your speaking voice in your writing. You would never say, ‘This radio needed repair from the date of purchase’; you would say, ‘This radio hasn’t worked since I bought it.’ In talking, you tend to use short sentences, plain words, active voice, and specific details. You don’t worry about beginning a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but.’ You don’t use words like ‘shall’ or ‘secondly’ or ‘societal.’ You would never say ‘My reasons were the following’ or ‘Quiet was the night.’ Daniel McDonald, The Language of Argument 238 (5th ed. 1986).
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