Pronunciation: (trōp), [key]
a. any literary or rhetorical device, as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony, that consists in the use of words in other than their literal sense.
b. an instance of this. Cf. figure of speech.
2. a phrase, sentence, or verse formerly interpolated in a liturgical text to amplify or embellish.
3. (in the philosophy of Santayana) the principle of organization according to which matter moves to form an object during the various stages of its existence.
a combining form meaning “one turned toward” that specified by the initial element (heliotrope); also occurring in concrete nouns that correspond to abstract nouns ending in -tropy or -tropism: allotrope.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.