There are six common types of trope including irony, allegory and metaphor. There are also innumerable other kinds of tropes used in rhetoric from allusion to zeugma. A trope is any situation where a speaker, writer or poet plays with words. More specifically, it is where words are replaced with other words, but the meanings are kept the same. Tropes are also words that are kept the same with the meaning changing.
Metaphor is a common trope used in poetry, fiction and speeches. It is the direct substitution of one term, idea or object with another. While the surface detail of the metaphor changes, the inner meaning remains consistent. Metaphor tropes are often specific to cultures and may not be understood completely by outsiders.
Allegory is an extended metaphor, which spans an entire poem, story or work of art. The surface detail tells one story, but a deeper meaning can be gleaned when studied closely. A prime example of the allegory trope is “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. On the surface, it is a story of a farm where the animals rebel and then trouble ensues. The allegory is that the farm is a direct substitution for Tsarist Russia and the animals are the Bolsheviks who overthrow it.
Irony is similar to sarcasm in the fact that the surface detail says one thing, but a different meaning is implied. The irony trope is different from a ‘sense of irony’ where a person appreciates ironic events. There are three main types of irony: dramatic irony, spoken irony and situational irony.
Metonymy occurs when something is described using the name of something distinct, but related. For example, using the word ‘drink’ to mean alcohol, or ‘Westminster’ to mean the UK government and ‘the White House’ to mean the President of America's administration are types of metonymy. Like with metaphors, metonymy tropes are often culturally-specific and may not be understood by others.
Synecdoche is related to metonymy and is when the the whole is represented by a part of it. For example, the ‘Oval Office’ is used to mean the White House. Other examples include using ‘wheels’ to mean car and ‘engine’ to mean ‘train.’
Antanaclasis tropes occur when a word is repeated several times, but the meaning of the word subtly changes each time. William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” provides one such example with the line: “tender yourself more dearly…or…you’ll tender me a fool.” Antanaclasis tropes are types of puns often used in slogans and headlines.