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Trope Derangement Syndrome: Why Is Rep. Omar Accused of Trafficking in "Tropes" Rather Than "Cliches" or "Stereotypes?"
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Being a child of the 1960s-70s, until the Ilhan Omar brouhaha broke, I hadn’t fully realized that the word “trope” has largely replaced the word “cliché” and is sneaking up on “stereotype.” I’d always associated tropism with what sunflowers do, but that’s not really relevant to the current usage of “trope:” Merriam-Webster defines “trope” as:
a: a word or expression used in a figurative sense : FIGURE OF SPEECH
b : a common or overused theme or device : CLICHÉ
For example, here are just some of the New York Times’ recent references to the crazy brave Somali politician as dealing in “tropes,” which, like cliches and stereotypes can’t possibly be true because everybody has heard of them.
– Feb 11, 2019 – WASHINGTON — Representative Ilhan Omar, who has been … are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” Ms. Omar said in …
– Feb 11, 2019 – Weekend tweets by Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota that were … “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s …
– 1 day ago – Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, center, on … of the House, who say it played into the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty.”.
– Feb 12, 2019 – The old trope that Jews have secret powers to control other people. Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota congresswoman, dabbled in this sort of …
– 9 hours ago – … from a freshman representative from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar — and …. that her critics say played into the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty.
– 3 days ago – WASHINGTON — When Representative Ilhan Omar landed a … with even Democratic leaders accusing her of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes.
– 12 hours ago – Some Democrats say Representative Ilhan Omar is being singled out as a … has been accused repeatedly of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes.
– 5 days ago – Ilhan Omar has come under fresh criticism for remarks critics call … But some Jewish leaders say Omar then revived an old trope about divided …
According to Google’s nGram database of books, trope was used at an infrequent but stable rate from 1800 to 1980, at which point it began to take off. Meanwhile, after 1940 “cliché” and “stereotype” began to explode in usage, becoming two of the more clichéd stereotypes and stereotypical clichés of 1960s books.
But by 2000, the “trope” trope surpassed the “cliché” trope. Through 2007 (the last full year in the nGram data), cliché was in freefall. Thus, the vast “TV Tropes” archive is not known as “TV Cliches” as it likely would have been named in 1970.
What’s the difference? TV Tropes defines cliche as
A cliché is a phrase, motif, trope, or other element within an artistic work that has become common enough to be seen as an expected part of a work.
In contrast:
Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. Tropes are not inherently disruptive to a story; however, when the trope itself becomes intrusive, distracting the viewer rather than serving as shorthand, it has become a cliché. …
Note that currently the Oxford English Dictionary actually recognizes the definition “a significant or recurrent theme; a motif”, its earliest quotation for this meaning being from 1975. Merriam-Webster also somewhat recognizes this meaning, but twists it into “a common or overused theme or device: cliché”, which seems unjustly condemning.
My impression is that TV Tropes thinks of a trope as a pre-cliche that only sophisticates, like the millions of us who kill time checking out TV Tropes, yet recognize.
But the New York Times’ Ilhan Omar coverage seems to use “trope” the way it uses “stereotype:” as a hatefact that too many people have heard of to be true. And since reality can only be perceived by the tiny elite of Gnostic initiates who know that anything that is widely known (e.g., the average Jew tends to be wealthier and more politically influential than the average non-Jew) must be, by definition, a stereotype and cliche and a trope, and can therefore be dismissed out of hand
So, what’s next once “trope” becomes as cliched as “cliche?” I’m guessing some Professor of English Literature Theory is using it right now.
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  1. I was thinking similarly when I was reading your clip from the NYT article about Trump using anti-semitic tropes. It is one of those “buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important.”

    • Agree: RationalExpressions
    • Replies: @Malcolm X-Lax
    , @rufus
    , @Danindc
  2. Hunsdon says:

    And here I was, hoping to see “canard” make a resurgence.

  3. aidan says:

    It came in through academia — it’s a favorite Foucaudianism. Like the way academics don’t have ideas, they have notions, and don’t have structure, but rather scaffolds, so too they gave up on themes in the 80s. “Tropes”: Much clever.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  4. @aidan

    So English majors don’t analyze “themes” anymore?

    I did not know that.

    • Replies: @aidan
    , @PiltdownMan
    , @Pericles
  5. robot says: • Website

    we should always try to avoid cliches, but clever use of tropes can be art.

    • Agree: Buzz Mohawk
    • Replies: @Hamlet's Ghost
    , @Lot
  6. IHTG says:

    What are the odds that the word “trope” became common precisely because of the TVTropes website?

  7. Realist says:

    And here I was, hoping to see “canard” make a resurgence.

    Canard: a small winglike projection attached to an aircraft forward of the main wing to provide extra stability or control, sometimes replacing the tail.

    Don’t see the relevance…or did you mean a duck?

  8. aidan says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Okay, they haven’t stopped saying theme, but the default is trope. That’s their ***methodology***.

  9. Anon[345] • Disclaimer says:

    So where does that leave canard?

    Definition of canard

    1a : a false or unfounded report or story especially : a fabricated report – “The report about a conspiracy proved to be a canard.”

    b : a groundless rumor or belief – “the widespread canard that every lawyer is dishonest”

    Trope has always seemed to me like meme, a word that the younguns picked up because it sounds cool, and they misuse it. Of course, descriptive lexicography says that commonly used meanings are the real meaning.

    Ironic another word that I feel is misused by the young. I bet most could not define it.

    In general, there is a trend of young people picking up jargon of various kinds, mostly from social science, not understanding it, misusing it, and thus the meaning changes … to what? Usually the meaning gets so diffuse that the word is no longer useful. In my generation this happened to weird.

    I think today you have the situation of universities packed with kids who really shouldn’t be there, taught by professors who used to be university students who really shouldn’t have been there, and they pick up words they really don’t have the verbal chops to really understand, but they want to use them, partly just to obfuscate that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

    At newspapers you have the situation of young journalists terrorizing their elders, who are fearful of being fired or having a fake #metoo thrown at them, and you have no copyeditors anymore after the last massacre at the New York Times, and, dammit, if the kids want to use trope, they will use trope, you old get-off-my-lawn YT.

  10. @Steve Sailer

    So English majors don’t analyze “themes” anymore?

    I did not know that.

    As you’ve often pointed out, Mr. Sailer, they don’t analyze anything. They interrogate them.

  11. I wonder why both “stereotype” and “cliche” saw a simultaneous spike in usage circa 1998…

  12. mmack says:

    Canard (noun)
    A false or unfounded report or story
    A groundless rumor or belief

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @Realist
    , @Realist
  13. edgar says:

    How about “zeugma?” In current usage, zeugma, from the greek word meaning “yoking” or “bonding,” is a figure of speech in which a word applies to more than one noun in a sentence. For example, “John lost his coat and his temper,” the verb “lost” applies to both the nouns “coat” and “temper.” Losing a coat and losing temper are logically and grammatically different ideas, which are brought together in this sentence. (see: . Stereotypes, tropes, and cliches may be considered a type of zeugma in that they yoke the instant usage with previous usages that alter the context of the plain meaning of the phrase is to be understood. When the plain meaning of a phrase is yoked to prior usages to add an additional element of context, the phrase will henceforth be referred to as a “zeugma.” For instance, tropes, cliches, and stereotypes “orange man,” “conservatives pounce,” and “migrant caravan” are each zeugmas because the plain meaning of each phrase has been yoked to prior usage to convey an added element of understanding, in this case, mostly the writer of said phrase is a twit.

    • Replies: @Mitchell Porter
  14. George says:

    ” I’d always associated tropism with what sunflowers do, but that’s not really relevant to the current usage of “trope:” Merriam-Webster defines “trope” as:”

    A tropism (from Greek τρόπος, tropos, “a turning”) is a biological phenomenon, indicating growth or turning movement of a biological organism, usually a plant, in response to an environmental stimulus.

    In English, the word tropism is used to indicate an action done without cognitive thought: However, “tropism” in this sense has a proper, although non-scientific, meaning as an innate tendency, natural inclination, or propensity to act in a certain manner towards a certain stimulus. (this sentence was unsourced in wikipedia fwiw)

    It seems the dictionary people should reconcile Trope and Tropism.

  15. @Realist

    “Canard” sounds like some kind of tasty dessert.

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @Anon
  16. This layman has the following stereotypical, cliched, trope-like understandings of the three words:

    Stereotype — a type of character widely believed to be typical of a group, e.g., the pushy Jew.

    Cliche — anything that is over used and pathetically common, e.g., the phrase, “Jews are pushy.”

    Trope — something that commonly appears or happens in stories, e.g., a stereotypically pushy Jew writing cliches about the tropes that appear in his stories about stereotypically pushy Jews writing cliches about tropes that appear in stories.

    • LOL: fish, BB753
    • Replies: @BenKenobi
    , @keypusher
  17. @Anon

    “Canard” would be the correct word if they really didn’t believe it was true. In modern parlance, a “trope” is analogous to a Michael Kingsley “gaffe.”

    Kingsley defined a gaffe as a politician accidentally speaking some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.

    A trope is when when a politician (or political commentator) speaks such a truth on purpose.

  18. @Hunsdon

    I can’t remember ever seeing “canard” outside of the context of “anti-Semitism” — it’s always anti-Jewish canard but black/brown/gay “stereotype.” I never see “cliché” used to describe groups of people in any sense. Maybe the use of canard became too much of a Jewish canard and “trope” is the media’s new stereotypical replacement.

    I’m only half joking as these kinds of word replacements really do seem to become fixed in use quite quickly. The word itself is simple and indescribably annoying, which would make sense if it’s only ever used by the equally irritating actors in these media-driven shame sessions.

  19. @Anon

    “Ironic” has always been abused, much like “tragic” and “literally.” If something is truly ironic you usually don’t need to say so.

  20. jacopo says:

    Trope: (i) a word that girls who wear problem glasses like to use; (ii) any idea that NPR reporters don’t like.

    • Replies: @Ron Mexico
  21. Give someone enough trope, and he will hang himself …

    Speaking of tropes, today’s Google Doodle once again goes above and beyond, honoring a pioneering Russian female mathematician

  22. The Z Blog says: • Website

    The word “trope” has always been used in Hollywood among writers. Given that the “news” is now just poorly scripted infotainment, it makes sense that script writing lingo turns up in the mouths of the actors hired to play journalists and intellectuals on TV.

    • Replies: @Toddy Cat
  23. OT: Looks like Titania McGrath decided to reinvent herself as a 40 year old white male with a doctorate in Early Renaissance Poetry:

    Transforming yourself into a white male is a very brave and stunning thing to do.

  24. DCThrowback says: • Website

    it’s like raaaaaain … on your wedding day

    it’s the freeeeee riiiiide … you just didn’t take

    reality bites had a solid bit on this:

  25. Escher says:

    Haven’t seen “libel” or “blood libel” used in this context either.

  26. anon[374] • Disclaimer says:

    You hit the nail on the head (trope!) with “English professor using…” This is another example of poorly educated “journalists” trying to sound smart by using technical terms from college courses, like “interrogating” a subject.

    Since most of my writing appears online first, I’ve taken to using links to TVTropes, and their handy names, to identify themes, etc. without having to spend time describing them myself.

    The titular Homo and Negro of my Amazon-banned book are not tropes OR “stereotypes” but rather “ideal types”, somewhat Platonic but also influenced by the style of Dr. Alfred Rosenberg. One knows NAOTALT, but it’s the best way to organize what you’ve “noticed.” That’s why they hate it. They want you to use THEIR stereotypes (i.e., PC language) such as “evil white men” or “white corporate criminals” (a trope from 70s TV).

  27. songbird says:

    Here’s my theory: “trope” is somehow used more with TV and movies. In reviews and entertainment sites. Because few read books, Hollywood vocabulary experiences growth until it predominates.

    But since it is Hollywood, the idea of antisemitic tropes has an added layer of humor.

  28. I believe they have a secret dungeon called a Safe Space where they submit whims to “interrogation”. Thoughts that are classified as “proto-” and “crypto-” , however, must be spirited away to the lower depths of the Sociology Department for extraordinary renditions.

  29. Jewish Privilege

    Toasters don’t have presets for “tostada”.
    For “pita” or “rice cake”? There’s nada.
    But Jews have contrived to finagle
    A specified button for “bagel”.

  30. Sparkon says:

    Excellent comment.

    There are a number of these mangled expressions that have lost their traditional meanings due to misuse. What would young ignoramuses think if I wrote

    At the outset of WWII, German tanks had better optics than their Soviet counterparts.

    Decimate, fortuitous, fail (verb) in place of failure (noun)…the list goes on.

    When all else fails, use a dictionary.

  31. conatus says:

    Speaking of n-grams, I believe ‘inferiority complex’ is being discarded and being replaced with ‘imposter syndrome’

    Here is the ngram usage of ‘imposter syndrome’ .

    Here is ‘inferiority complex’ usage

    You can see that beginning in 1980 ‘imposter syndrome’ rises and ‘inferiority complex’ falls.

    I would speculate this change has to do with lower minority SAT scores, higher crime rates, lower wealth, higher out of wedlock births and an entire panoply of bad stats.
    Our Cultural Overlords do not want the word ‘inferior’ associated with these stats.

  32. Anon[112] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Cliche is that which becomes tiresome and obvious. It is superficial and shallow.

    Trope has lasting, even eternal, value like the Crucifix.

    Cliche is sprinkles on ice cream. Trope is the ice cream itself. It has tremendous symbolic or archetypal value.

    As pop culture has become core culture to which people allude to for reference — Bible used to have that role in the past –, it has become the source of tropes.

    TV news often begin by referring to movies. I must say THE GODFATHER is trope-rich. STAR WARS not so much but that’s just me. For some, it is their religion.

  33. BenKenobi says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Check out the Tunnel of Prejudice, it’s full of stereotypes!

  34. peterike says:

    Trope is one of those words used to have something sound more important. And since “anti-Semitism” is the most important thing in the world, we get “anti-Semitic trope.” Had Omar said something bad about blacks, it would have just been “anti-black stereotype.” Had Omar said something bad about whites… well nobody would have said anything.

    This is like the use of dossier in “the Trump dossier.” When was dossier EVER used in common media parlance? In reality, it could have been “the Trump files,” or “the Trump notes.” But that would sound less important and scary. So we got “Trump dossier” with its hints of spy movies, and the use of “dossier” in the media probably jumped 50,000% overnight.

    What I find more interesting is how the media always manages to be in total lock-step. They are ALL saying “anti-Semitic trope.” Did any media outlet call them “anti-Semitic stereotypes”? I don’t care enough to look, but it would be an interesting exercise in media, umm, trope control.

  35. @Anon

    That really is the word they should be using. It comes closest to the thought they are trying to screw into our brains.

    Expanding on your citation from Merriam-Webster:

    Definition of canard

    1 a : a false or unfounded report or story
    especially : a fabricated report

    b : a groundless rumor or belief

    2 : an airplane with horizontal stabilizing and control surfaces in front of supporting surfaces
    also : a small airfoil in front of the wing of an aircraft that can increase the aircraft’s performance

    The Wright Brothers canards made their airplanes unstable.

    These “false or unfounded” MSM stories in which the word trope is clumsily being employed to imply that true statements are “groundless” are the real canards, which destabilize public perception of reality. They constitute yet another example, either of stupid projection on the part of those lacking in self-awareness, or of an evil attempt by them to gaslight the public into doubting its own perception of the obvious.

    Stupid or evil or both. Take your pick.

    • Replies: @Cloudbuster
  36. Flemur says:

    “Trope” seems to be used as though it means “a statement that is undoubtedly true, but we act like it’s ridiculous because we don’t like the fact that it’s true”.

  37. @william munny

    I believe Joe Scarborough used the phrase “antisemetic trope” about 10 times this morning…so, there you go.

  38. Asagirian says: • Website

    20th Century Jewish tropestry in a nutshell.

    From Leo Frank to Anne Frank to Barney Frank.

  39. Bill H says:

    Also the word “literally” which has come to mean pretty much the opposite of what the dictionary defines it to mean.

    “She is literally going to have a heart attack when she sees that thing,” for instance.

  40. According to Google Ngram Viewer, “canard” is in decline while “fake news” is trending up.
    The same can be observed on Google Trends, with “fake news” jumping up in 2016.

  41. Making a new Thing is hard; creating a new word for an old Thing is much more achievable, particularly if all you’ve got in your toolkit is a liberal arts degree.

  42. Sam Patch says:

    I was just thinking exactly the same thing.

  43. anon[384] • Disclaimer says:

    “Trope” or “canard” are Jewish attack terms to be used against true statements about Jews that can’t be easily refuted.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @utu
  44. As a liberal … I have to say … this is a brilliant column. Well done. Well-observed.

  45. Logan says:

    The hilarious part is that scientists who have actually studied stereotypes have found they are remarkably accurate. Not surprising when you realize that a stereotype is simply the accumulated conventional wisdom about something. So denouncing an idea as a stereotype is really saying that it’s probably true.

    As opposed to the common and utterly mistaken belief that if you can show something to be a stereotype it disproves it.

  46. @IHTG

    “What are the odds that the word “trope” became common precisely because of the TVTropes website?”

    Very high. I imagine some English major chose it, based on its literary meaning, then the masses picked it up from reading that time-sink site.

  47. I went to a French restaurant recently and had confit de canard with blood libel sausage stuffing. Delicious, I tell you.

  48. carol says:

    What are movie tropes called? Like, Gangster on the Lam hears a breaking news story about himself on the radio or TV and immediately turns it off.

    Who the hell does that?

  49. rufus says:
    @william munny

    Its more people parroting one another both from limited vocabulary and an to further the narrative.

    It ads an element of opacity to the critique. If you simply say to the average man or woman, “that’s a sterotype.” they wont grasp that it’s forbidden thought. Many will simply think yes, it is amusingly common and accurate.

    Trope means Baaaaad !

  50. rufus says:

    @ isteve nemesis j Podhoretz is a big fan of trope, might be a cultural affect common among certain groups. Maybe debating class drilled it into them. A subtle dissimulation when things get too close to home…

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  51. My mother was staying over with us once when my husband was in graduate school getting on 30 years ago. He muttered something about a professor having asked them to bring a “trope” to school next day, making it sound like show-and-tell (what this meant in the context of whatever he was studying, I do not know and was probably too busy with the baby to pay much attention). But Mother caught at the word, and called us both later the next day, with great worry, that she had seen him leave with nothing that morning and that she might have distracted him: “Did he remember his trope?” To this day “did you remember your trope” has become a modest in-joke, the more especially because we never bothered to nail down what it meant. Unrelatedly, a couple years ago, I noticed “tranche” creep into his speech, and I said it sounded like the new trope, but evidently “tranche” is a thing.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Known Fact
  52. @Realist

    The anti-semitic canard duck

    • LOL: Realist
  53. Anonymous[706] • Disclaimer says:

    “Crazy brave?” Really? I think Omar knew that Democrats and especially Jewish Democrats are so fully whipped and prostrate before the aura of Magic Negritude that nobody would have the stones to challenge her for real. All the Jews who would are officially Republicans going-forward, or otherwise not paid up as acceptable leftists, e.g. Starbucks man, who don’t count for DNC agenda-setting. She’s got the media equivalent of diplomatic immunity on this. For Euro-left this wouldn’t be even minimally courageous, and forget about Mogadishu manners.

    By the way, nobody has mentioned that she is even more telegenic, by certain lights, than Teen Miss South Carolina-esque babbler O’Cortez. With her perfect complection and exotic fashion sense she will have a natural youthful, worshipful, low-info base the AIPACkers can’t crack.

  54. Deckin says:

    Apart from the newly ubiquitous ‘wait, what?’, the most abused usage I hear out of the younguns is ‘random’–generally taken to mean unexpected, out of character, surprising.

  55. @Anon

    Good summary. Two words the young—and media people of all ages—use terribly are amazing and incredible. Whenever I hear a millennial saying “amazing” and “incredible” I want to ask her, can you get through a day without using those two words? Didn’t think so. How about a paragraph? Or you Ms. Media person, can you give a description that doesn’t require your audience to believe you were amazed and incredulous at everything you witnessed? After all, if that is your main reaction to events, you’re not a very skeptical or discerning reporter and so not really suited for the news biz.

    The worst used word by the young is literally, which they use to mean “not literally” or “figuratively” or perhaps “amazing” and “incredible”.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  56. Omar is using the Trope — A — Dope Strategy to wear down and tire out the ISRAEL FIRST LOBBY treasonites who put the interests of Israel ahead of the interests of the United States. Omar is sipping khat tea to keep up her energy as she battles the treasonous rats who betray the USA.

    Two bald Krauts named Walt and Mearsheimer wrote a dry, academic book called THE ISRAEL LOBBY and they were also called names by the Bolshevik Jews who refuse to honestly debate the issue of Israel and its outsize influence over US foreign policy.

    Trump is a treasonous rat who puts the interests of Israel ahead of the interests of the USA.

    It is a damn shame we had to import a Somali to get some honesty in the US Congress about Israel and the Israel Lobby!

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @J.Ross
  57. @Buzz Mohawk

    That really is the word they should be using. It comes closest to the thought they are trying to screw into our brains.

    You see, “canard” makes the claim explicit, and falsifiable. They don’t want that. A canard is groundless, so if you can prove it’s not groundless, it’s not a canard. Someone might notice.

    But if you call it a trope/cliche/stereotype, well, it may be accurate or it may not, but they can keep calling it a trope/cliche/stereotype forever, attaching a negative connotation to that, and keep implying that it’s groundless without ever having to actually prove it’s groundless, because it doesn’t have to be groundless to be a trope.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    , @Buzz Mohawk
  58. Danindc says:
    @william munny

    That’s a great line from the Poochie the Dog episode that Steve recently referenced re our boy Jussie. The Simpsons really did do everything first.

    You probably knew it when you used it but still funny…

  59. Pericles says:
    @Steve Sailer

    English majors do ‘Critical Theory’, don’t they? As Wikipedia sagely puts it:

    While modernist critical theory (as described above) concerns itself with “forms of authority and injustice that accompanied the evolution of industrial and corporate capitalism as a political-economic system,” postmodern critical theory politicizes social problems “by situating them in historical and cultural contexts, to implicate themselves in the process of collecting and analyzing data, and to relativize their findings.”[4]

    (It’s one of those edit-salad Wikipedia articles too.)

  60. Pericles says:

    Don’t see the relevance…or did you mean a duck?

    More specifically, an anti-semitic canard, viz. Tiny Duck.

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @SunBakedSuburb
  61. My favorite broadcast network TV Trope is how every legally owned firearm in a scripted story is registered, licensed, or the owner has a permit to possess. Cable TV shows don’t seem to possess this particular “trope,” so apparently, if you are actually paying cold, hard cash for your entertainment, the Cosmopolitans don’t want to risk insulting the customer.

    I was watching an episode of “Arrow” which had some “gun control” being implemented at the end, and the TV station in Chicago actually ran a DISCLAIMER before the episode. So station management is well aware of how “gun control” goes with their audience. The proles don’t appreciate the Cosmopolitan anti-gun preaching.

  62. For what it’s worth, TV Tropes has their definition exactly right. At the most general level, a trope is a structured element of some kind that makes a story “work.” Tropes are mutually conditioning parts of an holistic whole that fit together to bring a recognizable world into being. Tropes do not fully exist on their own, but are diffractions of meaning that emerge when the unitary human condition is sifted by events and circumstances. As such, not only literary criticism but much of psychology and other human studies involves the analysis of tropes.

    A trope, by definition, is never out of place in its own context. A hackneyed trope is hackneyed only because the story to which it belongs has become irrelevant and therefore boring to most of the audience, who has moved on to other circumstances. It does not thereby become a cliche; even though it is often called as such, this is quite inappropriate. Properly speaking, a cliche is a broadly applicable truism that, due to its very generally, imparts but little leverage to any concrete situation. It is like the air around us. Nothing can be done without air, but since this is almost never the limiting factor in our activities, the observation of that fact fails to bring much enlightenment, and the instruction manual for putting together your new bookcase need not begin with “Step 1: Make sure you have enough air.” However, because cliches are true, the study of them, like the study of air, will continue to yield important insights, no matter how taken for granted be the basic facts.

    Nothing that Ilhan Omar said even remotely qualifies as either a trope or a cliche. They are, rather, simple statements pertaining to concrete facts that could variously be called observations, descriptions, or hypotheses, but not themes or tropes. It is clear that nobody in the mainstream media understands the meaning of the word (as other commenters here have hinted, the word they’re really groping for is “canard”); but by referring to Omar’s tropes, they are inadvertently validating the importance of what she is saying. “Trope” is precisely the wrong word to use if you wish to accuse somebody of making a scurrilous charge. It is an awkward but not unacceptable word to use if your point is that she has said something which, while true, is not supposed to be mentioned.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  63. Grumpy says:

    “Trope” appeared out of nowhere.

    “Paradigm” did the same thing. For a while, everyone everywhere was talking about pair-a-dimes, but Google’s n-gram shows that “paradigm” has been falling out of favor since 1999.

    We are slaves to fashion.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  64. @Hunsdon

    A resurgence would be welcome, Mr. Hunsdon, as the canard has fallen out of favor since the Rutan kit-built designs, the Piaggio (not a full canard design), the Beech Starship, only a handful of the few built which are flying today:

    • Replies: @istevefan
  65. @robot

    Avoid cliches like the plague.

    I told you a billion times not to exaggerate.


  66. The nGram graph off of Google is one thing. All those uses from this year that you listed are probably just due to lack of originality, on the part of journalists AND the politicians (do they even have speechwriters anymore – it doesn’t SOUND like it!).

    I think by the end of this election cycle, we ought to reach the tropopause. The storm will stop growing, reach it’s mature phase, and start throwing down rain, 3/4 in hail, and maybe some fire and brimstone:

    The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down.
    You can’t let go and you can’t hold on.
    You can’t go back and you can’t stand still,
    If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will!

  67. @Almost Missouri

    A.M., at least we got rid of “awesome” a while back. Some people, like, didn’t even, like notice.

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  68. istevefan says:

    So trope is the current trope.

    • Agree: Buzz Mohawk
  69. Trope is a word you usually see in print. It’s rare to hear it.

    Thus, a lot of smart people may be familiar with its meaning, but not its pronunciation. I had to look it up. It looks Greek, like it should rhyme with dopey. It is from Greek, but via Latin, so it really rhymes with dope.

    So a trope is a cliche, a cliche is a stereotype, and a stereotype is a trope?

    It’s like that circular T-shirt design they had at Concordia’s Norwegian Language Village one year, where barn, love, and a third word each meant one of the others in the other language. I know a similar case between British and US English, but I’ll be saving that one for my own T-shirt.

    • Replies: @David
  70. I think it’s a legacy of ‘high theory’ from the Cathedral trickling down into journalism via undergrad classes (probably many times removed from the sources). One source might be ‘historiographer’ and ‘tropologist’ Hayden White, most active in the 1970’s, with his rather esoteric, Nietzsche inspired historical relativism of ‘narratives’ imposed on historical events. That was then bowdlerized into post-colonial theory and merged with Said’s ‘Orientalism’to create a romantic picture of resistance to evil Western ‘tropes’ (of binary Reason, individualism, ‘development’, etc), imposed on subalterns.

    In other words ‘tropology’ is just a fancy way of avoiding talking about real things – social systems, economies, cultural forms, competing, interacting, failing, succeeding…….the Darwinian stuff.

  71. Tyrion 2 says:

    Zuckerberg not only idolises Octavian but actually looks like him.

    Augustus revived: Marble turns a man into a god; latex, makeup and model eyes can restore the stone to closer to how he actually looked in life. A lifelike reconstruction of the bust of Augustus in @GLYPTOTHEK Terrifying! #Twitterstorians— Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (@LloydLlewJ) February 23, 2019

  72. Anonymous[263] • Disclaimer says:
    @Savage Indifference

    What sort of professor is he?

  73. istevefan says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Though canards have fallen out of favor in the civilian market, they are still well-represented in the military market. The Eurofighter Typhoon, French Rafale, Swedish Gripen and Chinese J-20 are some of the better examples of fighters with canards.

    • Replies: @Lot
  74. Anonymous[263] • Disclaimer says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    Some examples would be helpful.

    but are diffractions of meaning that emerge when the unitary human condition is sifted by events and circumstances.

    What does this mean?

  75. Realist says:
    @Charles Pewitt

    Agreed, but Trump is a member of the Deep State. A right of passage is to prostitute yourself to Israel.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  76. keypusher says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    That’s a really good set of distinctions, actually. And as Intelligent Dasein points out, “tropes” aren’t intrinsically bad.

  77. Realist says:

    More specifically, an anti-semitic canard, viz. Tiny Duck.


  78. Anonymous[151] • Disclaimer says:

    The left are using “tropes” in bad faith

  79. Realist says:
    @Hapalong Cassidy

    “Canard” sounds like some kind of tasty dessert.

    Yes, a French pastry made of duck.

  80. David says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Trope appears in the first line of the Odyssey where Odysseus is called “polytropon,” meaning with many turns, or tricky. It’s fun to see those old words still kicking around.

  81. @Cloudbuster


    It provides a kind of cover — plausible vocabulary deniability — and exploits the ignorance of the targets.

    “Oh, it’s just a trope, whatever that is. They didn’t say it’s a lie. Oh look at that cute squirrel over there…”

    This resembles a legal tactic, similar to Bill Clinton saying he “did not have sexual relations with that woman,” meaning he didn’t do the old in-out in-out with her (which was true). He could claim that twat cigars, cunnilingus and stained dresses didn’t fall under his strict legal definition of sexual relations, and he therefore could avoid charges of perjury.

    This is trickery. Of course, “that depends on what the definition of is is.”

  82. @Pericles

    ” … viz. Tiny Duck. …”

    One of my private dicks snapped pics of Tiny Duck and Steve Sailer sharing a giant sandwich at Art’s on Ventura Blvd.. It appears they are allies of some kind, and possibly involved in some kind of friendship.

  83. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    More Omartian Chronicles. They say Ruth B. Ginzer was a small woman who stood up to Big men, but little Omar bombed the prevailing narrative.

  84. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Too many Jews are Canti-Semites. Their talk is full of cant.

  85. The linguistic troposphere is one of the concentric spheres that comprise the woke firmament.

  86. Dtbb says:

    If y’all ever hear the word hypernormal, I invented it.

  87. So, what’s next once “trope” becomes as cliched as “cliche?”

    Most terms we have are neutral on the ethics of the thing (“social forms”, “the image of”, “metonymic structures”).

    Aside from cliche, trope, and stereotype, the only word that is implicitly negative is “construct,” another holdover from the halcyon days of Derrida and Foucault (who of course disagreed with each other on key issues, despite their synonymous stature today). “Trafficking in damaging constructs” just sounds a little too pedantic even for millennial journalists, though.

    /English prof

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  88. @Cloudbuster

    Your interpretation is brilliant and subtle, BTW. I fear my comment reads like you didn’t make a light bulb go on over my head. You did.

  89. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    One thing for sure, it’s almost impossible to speak honestly in defense of the top power.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  90. I used to say that a trope is the box that a bunch of cliches come in.


    Princess Leia — “damsel in distress” — cliche

    Luke Skywalker — “naive rube who yearns for the big-time” — cliche

    Obi-Wan Kenobi — “forgotten old man who used to be a mighty hero” — cliche

    The “trope” which connects them is:

    Damsel in Distress has the Magic Cookie, which is sought by Evil Villain. Damsel entrusts the Cookie to the Faithful Messenger. The Naive Rube finds the Magic Cookie, and Brings it to the Mysterious Forgotten Old Hero, who will ride forth into action for One Last Time.

    A cliche or a stereotype is static and imagistic: the Drunken Irishman.

    A trope is structured and dynamic: the Drunken Irishman sits at the bar and bemoans how he lost his One Big Chance to Make It.

  91. – Feb 12, 2019 – The old trope that Jews have secret powers to control other people. Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota congresswoman, dabbled in this sort of …

    Cause this ain’t gonna be the first time this ol’ trope goy spent the night alone

    Marshall Tucker Band / This Ol’ Cowboy:

  92. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    This guy’s Panglossian nuttery is off the charts.

  93. @Buzz Mohawk

    Regarding the OT story about racist self-driving cars

    Lack of diversity:

    The researchers suggested that the differences in pedestrian-detection accuracy could result from not having enough dark-skinned pedestrians in the images used to train the systems…

    Plus systemic racism:

    … as well as the systems’ insufficient emphasis on learning from the smaller population of dark-skinned pedestrians.

    Yields disparate impact:

    • Replies: @El Dato
  94. @Savage Indifference

    Yes, I love tranche — the fancy biz-page word for “a bunch of stock.” But my favorite is still “massive,” always used in news when “big” or “humongous” would lack the needed gravitas (in other words, sound dumb).

  95. I think cliché is used when some phrase or idea has been used too much, and with familiarity, it loses its impact. Even the term cliché has become a cliché.

    A stereotype is a characterization of a people, such as all Jews are rich or all blacks are violent. It may be useful in terms of reducing surprise when the expected behavior occurs again, and again, and again. Stereotypes can become cliched, and the term stereotype has become a cliché.

    Both clichés and stereotypes have a basis in reality.

    Trope is a figure of speech, metaphorical, not literal. Thus the NYT accusses Ilhan Omer of exxaggeration and colorful language as a means to covertly discredit her, but I do not think she uttered tropes. She spoke truth to power, to use a cliche.

    Power recoiled, and struck back by implying that exxaggeration and colorful language are typical of darker peoples who lack cognative skills of, say, Ashkenazi Jews. In short, their anti-trope campaign is a trope, itself.

  96. Whiskey says: • Website

    It’s on. Rahm Emmanuel wrote in the Atlantic a piece blasting Omar. Oh it’s on.

    Jews are about to discover they are the other White meat.

    Rahm vs Omar? Bet on Omar. Clyburn tweeted that she has more Pokémon points than Holocaust survivor children.

    Non Whites figure they don’t need Jews and they are the Captain now.

  97. Are these definitions going to be on the final, because if they are I will take notes.

  98. @jacopo

    “Trope: (i) a word that girls who wear problem glasses like to use; ” Tucker Carlson read some AOC tweets last night in which she used “trope” 3 times.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  99. guest says:

    “Trope” makes me think of the website T.v. Tropes, which is definitely not sophisticated. I don’t recall seeing the term in persistent use outside that context.

    Perhaps it’s a fad, and perhaps they’re all just reading off a script.

  100. guest says:

    “which seems unjustly condemning”

    They have a problem accepting the obvious fact that trope and cliche are synonymous. Why don’t they invent a neologism for “cliche that’s a cliche but not cliche?” Call it gloobeddie-gobbeldy.

  101. J.Ross says: • Website

    Schakowsky bent the knee! I have lived to see it! “She comes from a different culture.” Nazi hysteria really is just an excuse to attack white people, anti-Semitism is okay as long as your skin is dark!

  102. Trope just sounds stronger than cliche and stereotype because it’s not French and one maxim of good English writing is to prefer Anglo-Saxon words over French ones. Granted, trope is not Anglo-Saxon, but at least it’s not French and being short also helps it.

  103. Everyone who’s had a Bar Mitzvah knows what a trope is.
    Those of you who see Jewish conspiracies everywhere will want to look into this more deeply.

  104. Anonymous[263] • Disclaimer says:
    @International Jew

    one maxim of good English writing is to prefer Anglo-Saxon words over French ones

    Is that true? Why?

  105. @International Jew

    JJ, Voila ! The perfect answer.

  106. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hapalong Cassidy

    A huge cream puff shaped like a duck with a cute little neck and head sticking up, the bill made of orange flavored marpizan floating on a pond of blue berry flavored hard candy.

    Or my recipe for canard al orange. Thaw it. Make a big vat of thick orange juice. Soak the duck in it overnight. Rinse the duck throughly. Dry the skin with clean dish towels. Get it as dry as you can. Then put a mix of half white sugar half salt in a salt shaker and sprinkle it on the duck skin. Follow the standard recipe use the marinade orange juice for basting and the sauce. Then throw the rest of the orange juice away. Before you put it in the oven, stab it where the thigh meets the body and under the breast so the fat can drain out

    The overnight soak makes the meat juicy and yummy. The sugar on the skin makes it extra crispy

  107. J.Ross says: • Website

    While fans of Dave Chapelle tend to watch local TV, fams of the Wayans Brothers get crunk, and fans of Pete Davidson don’t exist, fans of Norm MacDonald have transcribed his every joke:

  108. J.Ross says: • Website

    They don’t have any problem whatever with tropism when they’re trying to nudge you to buy shoes you don’t need, adopt new pronouns, worry about Russians that aren’t there, or accept whose Turn it is.

  109. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Charles Pewitt

    Trope a dope, I love it: the sweet pseudoscience.

  110. I think the Left has gone to “Trope” precisely because it’s less well defined than “cliche” or “stereotype.”

    “Cliche” and “Stereotype” are commonly understood to be repetitive, unthinking statements that are based on lazy over-generalizations. For example, if one casually remarks that “black people love fried chicken” that would be a clear stereotype and cliche because it’s a statement based on a generalization rather than specific data. (It’s also clearly a mostly true statement — because, after all, who doesn’t love fried chicken?)

    “Trope,” by contrast, is more unfamiliar and ill-defined. Nobody knows exactly what it means, except that it refers to some theme that comes up repeatedly. Consequently “Trope” is a bigger container which can hold more freight. This is very useful to the MSM, as calling something a “trope” is its new way of saying: “this statement is bad by definition, and we can say so without even addressing whether it’s true.”

    For example, Bari Weiss wanted to shutdown Omar’s claims that Israel gets away with rough treatment of the Palestinians. So Weiss accused Omar of invoking an “anti-Semitic Trope” by saying that Israel has “hypnotized the world.”

    Weiss knew she couldn’t say with a straight face (or, at least, her readers couldn’t keep a straight face while she said it), that Omar was digging up an old stereotype that “Jews are good at hypnosis.” Jews have been accused of many things — usury, drinking Christian blood, killing Christ, controlling the media, etc. But I don’t think anyone has ever said: “you know who’s especially good at hypnosis — the Jews! Have you ever noticed how they are always swinging their pocket watches in front of your face and telling you that you are are getting sleepy!”

    So Weiss had to label it as a “trope,” instead. Weiss’s theory is apparently that: (a) Jews have been criticized throughout history, which is “anti-Semitic;” (b) Jew-criticism itself is thus a “trope;” and (c) QED: any negative critique of Israel or Jews is a continuation of an “anti-Semitic Trope.”

    Of course, all this ignores that ideas aren’t invalid or wrong simply because they have been mentioned before. For example, “Water is Wet” can be labeled as a deplorable “Hydrophobic Trope.” (Don’t assume its phase, bigot — H2O can also transition to a solid or gas!) But it’s generally true.

    Another caveat is that, as usual, not everyone is allowed to play this game. Try telling Weiss that it’s invalid for her to perpetuate the “White Privilege Trope,” and see what happens. She’ll just tell you “everyone says it because it’s true.” Checkmate, bigots.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Lot
  111. @rufus

    In what way is j Podhoretz Sailer’s nemesis?

    If anything the reverse is true, surely.

    • Replies: @Lot
  112. Anonymous[263] • Disclaimer says:

    Excellent comment.

  113. J.Ross says: • Website

    The Deep State is comprised of unelected bureaucrats who maintain policy continuity across electoral volatiity. Quintesssential illustrations are Sir Humphrey Appleby, Henry Kissinger and Znigniew Brzezinski. Trump at his most compromised is still not a member and can never be.

    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @Realist
  114. Lot says:

    Agree. A cliche is an overused trope.

    • Disagree: James Speaks
  115. Lot says:

    “Omar was digging up an old stereotype that “Jews are good at hypnosis”

    It is: Jews use psychological tricks to make people think and do things they are not inclined to otherwise.

    Guilded Age cartoons of “mesmerizers” resemble later antisemitic ones.

    I don’t think Der Sturmer, the king of Jewish Tropes, actually used Jewish hypnotists specifically because the 1930s and 40s hypnotism was a popular fad among Nazis.

    • Replies: @Ron Mexico
  116. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Seth Largo

    This, it’s a rehash of that old CultMarx trick of saying that a cultural institution with millions of adherents and its own literature, or a frequently evinced and easily tested concept, don’t really exist when you think about it, as opposed to the brotherhood of man, the labor theory of value, or the fitness of political science majors to rule us, which are as reliable and self-evident as a pile of rocks falling on one’s head.

    • Replies: @Seth Largo
  117. utu says:

    When the “Antisemitic canard” was first used? Did it come from Europe/ France? Dreyfus affair? I could not find it here

    where a long list of alleged Antisemitic canards are being refuted or so they think.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  118. Lot says:
    @Bill Jones

    They are longtime twitter frenemies, and Steve has used JPod as an example of NY Ashkenazi nepotism and dysgenic decline for probably 10 years now.

    JPod is indeed kind of dumb, especially compared to his illustrious parents. But his NY Post articles are pretty good, and his grouchy tweets are amusing in small doses.

    • Replies: @brioche
  119. Lot says:

    Canard a l’orange never falls out of favor in France.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  120. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    More hope for funny tropes

  121. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Cliche Guevara

  122. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    What about the pigs? Save the pigs! Pigs are our brothers and sisters.

  123. El Dato says:
    @International Jew

    Those of you who see Jewish conspiracies everywhere will want to look into this more deeply.

    Don’t make people Foucault’s Pendulum levels of crazy.

  124. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Can’t the cars recognize a large tall obstacle?

  125. Anon7 says:

    Don’t try to understand the individual words like stereotype, trope and cliché. Rest assured, if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re wrong. And if you ask the Democrats, they’ll prove it!

    From the book Hammer and Tickle:

    A Jew in the former Soviet Union was about to be brought before the secret police, and he went to see his rabbi before being interrogated.

    “Please, rabbi, can you explain Dialectical Materialism to me? Quickly?”

    “Of course,” said the rabbi. “Listen carefully. Two chimney sweeps are cleaning a chimney. When they get to the bottom, one’s hands are clean and the other’s hands are dirty. Which one washes his hands?”

    “Well, the dirty one washes his hands,” says the Jew.

    “Wrong!” says the rabbi. “The dirty one looks at the clean one’s hands, and assumes his hands must also be clean. The clean one looks at the dirty one’s hands and assumes his hands must also be dirty. So, it’s the clean one who washes his hands!”

    “Try again,” says the rabbi. “Two chimney sweeps are cleaning a chimney. When they get to the bottom, one’s hands are clean and the other’s hands are dirty. Which one washes his hands?”

    “Ah… the clean one?”

    “Wrong!” says the rabbi. “The dirty one looks at the clean one’s hands and the clean one looks at his own hands, so neither one washes his hands.”

    “Hey!” says the Jew. “You’re just twisting it around so that no matter what I say, I’m wrong!”

    “You see,” said the rabbi, “I told you I could teach you all about Dialectical Materialism. Quickly!”

  126. @Lot

    That’s right! Or even here in ‘Merika for some of us. My wife made that for Christmas! I was tempted to comment as you did, but I do far too much of that. Mmm…delicious.

    • Replies: @Lot
  127. Philip Neal says: • Website

    From the Judgment of the Employment Tribunal between Mr R Fraser and the University and College Union before Employment Judge AM Snelson:

    The study of anti-Semitism has to an extent acquired its own terminology (for example, stereotypes tend to be referred to as ‘tropes’). ..[51]

    When it was put to the Claimant that many Jewish members of the Respondents disagreed with his views, he protested that the ‘bad’ Jew label was being applied to him… [53]

    One painfully ill-judged example of playing to the gallery was Mr Newmark’s preposterous claim, in answer to the suggestion in cross-examination that he had attempted to push his way into the 2008 meeting, that a ‘pushy Jew’ stereotype was being applied to him. [148]

  128. @International Jew

    I’ve got you beat. I chanted nam-myoho-renge-kyo with Buddhists in Boulder. A lot. Over and over.

    What the hell, they invited me. That’s real diversity. You know what? Every time in my life that I’ve done that, something unexpected came along and shook up my life. That’s what it’s about. And I’m circumcised too.

    You really need “to look into this more deeply.”

    • Replies: @International Jew
  129. brioche says:

    Not sure if Norman Pod was brilliant either. Can’t remember anything truly insightful written by NPod.

    • Replies: @Benjaminl
  130. Lot says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    If they weren’t so cute I’d eat more duck than chicken.

  131. Thirdtwin says:

    And what are the odds they called it “TV Tropes” because of the thesaurus and the alliteration?

  132. @International Jew

    …and one maxim of good English writing is to prefer Anglo-Saxon words over French ones.

    Whatever happens, we have got

    The Maxim gun, and they have not.

  133. Anonymous[263] • Disclaimer says:
    @Ron Mexico

    Tucker Carlson read some AOC tweets last night in which she used “trope” 3 times.

    Why did he do that?

    • Replies: @Ron Mexico
  134. Anon[176] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Omar is pretty good with trope-a-dope.

  135. El Dato says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Yeah. Massive statistical processing sold as “Artificial Intelligence” by snake oilers has its limits.

    So people of color shall wear gilet jaune at all times!

    Problem solved. Californian hipsters can let crypto-racist self-non-driving cars non-drive themselves with a quiet mind.

  136. El Dato says:

    Quite so.

    I think a bit of Yes Minister is apposite.

    “You are a moral vacuum”.

    “If you say so, Minister”

  137. @Buzz Mohawk

    You really need “to look into this more deeply.”

    Nah, I’ll just take your word for it that you’re circumcised.

    • LOL: Buzz Mohawk
  138. Realist says:

    Trump at his most compromised is still not a member and can never be.

    If you work for the Deep State….you are part of the Deep State.

  139. @Grumpy

    Likewise “dynamic” — used as a noun. “We’re changing the dynamic,” “creating a whole new dynamic,” blah blah blah…

  140. I’m not quite in the twilight of my years, but am old enough to remember the era of hot-metal printing. Stereotypes were used in those days for the rapid distribution of copy or images. A stereotype matrix was a sort of mould. A forme – a page of made up of type and line or halftone cuts – would be impressed deeply into a sort of thick paperboard to form a matrix. Stereotype plates would then be cast in a molten lead alloy from these matrices, and newspapers or other publications printed from the resulting plates.

    The application of the word “stereotype” to stock descriptions of certain races, ethnicities, or religions was derived from the printer’s stereotype, which enabled quick and uniform reproduction of images. I believe Walter Lippmann is credited with first using “stereotype” in this figurative sense.

    And where did he get this idea? If we look up the word cliché in any good older French dictionary, we will find that its primary definition is a stereotype plate. The process of making stereotype plates is called clichage, an establishment for manufacturing stereotype matrices and plates a clicherie, a workman employed to do so a clicheur, etc. The figurative use of cliché in French dates to a time well before Lippmann introduced the figurative use of stereotype into American English.

    “Trope” comes from the Greek τρόπος, a turn, and does not seem quite appropriate to the constant repetition of stock phrases. I think it originates as a misuse of a liturgical term, whereby the interpolation of a stock phrase between different verses of a sequence or the ordinary of the mass makes it – e.g. – a “troped introit,” a “troped kyrie,” etc. As an example, at the beginning of the Holy Communion service in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the Decalogue is read by the minister in alternation with the phrase “Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law” repeated by the people after each commandment. This reading of the Ten Commandments could accordingly be described as “troped.”

    Perhaps we ought to recognize that as a stereotype casting must come from a matrix, the impression of the original forme, so the stereotyped characterization of persons comes from a similarly widely distributed impression of an original concept. The name for a stereo matrix, at least in this country, was a flong.

    I encourage referring to Ms. Omar’s stock anti-Jewish phrases as flongs, impressions of the original forme set up by Mahomet centuries ago in the Koran.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  141. Realist says:

    I was having a little fun with Hunsdon. Trying to add a littlr humor.

  142. Realist says:

    I was having a little fun with Hunsdon. Trying to add some humor.

  143. J.Ross says: • Website

    My much less informed impression was that this use of trope depends on the more widely understood phenomenon of heliotropism as thoughtless following — not quite what that means, but close enough to clarify the application with an image, which is how millennials define words.

    • Replies: @Crawfurdmuir
  144. J.Ross says: • Website

    The first word I noticed them doing this with was “virulent.” Anything deemed anti-Semitic is automatically also “virulent,” and often anti-Semitism itself is “virulent.” You also rarely see that word used separately.

  145. @J.Ross

    Well, there is a sense in which cultural things are “constructs.” Race is a construct, an “image of” sameness that obscures much fluidity.

    As far as the culture is concerned, George Zimmerman is white and Benjamin “Jon Favreau” Jealous is black. I’m white even though I have 20% native ancestry.

    Of course, in the hands of an activist, “construct” means none of this. It means “thing I don’t like and want to change through state policy, social shaming, or some other forceful means.”

  146. Realist says:

    I was having a little fun with Hunsdon. Trying to add some humor.

    • Replies: @mmack
  147. Anonymous[263] • Disclaimer says:

    One thing for sure, it’s almost impossible to speak honestly in defense of the top power.

    What do you mean?

  148. Actually, the “trope” in l’affaire Omar is Jewish, not anti-Semitic (1).

    Regardless of whether Mlle Omar is guilty or not of a “canard” (she isn’t, because what she said is true), a “cliche” ( maybe, these are often true) or a stereotype ( who cares), it is the Jews who committed the trope. It is this one, example given:

    LOW LEVEL MEDIA GUY: (casual aside) Of course, the Jews control the media.

    THE JEWS: (rising and speaking as one) We do NOT!! — um, I mean, they do NOT! …and to prove they don’t, you’ll never work in media again!

    AMERICAN NORMIE BURGER: wow, serves that guy right for being so anti-Semitic.

    Omar had the temerity to say, Jews own and control USG, which is bought and paid for by them. Which is of course true. Jews rose as one and cried, That is anti-Semitic! And to prove to you what helpless victims we are, we shall now summon our bought-and-paid-for slaves in Congress to unanimously condemn you!

    That is the actual trope here.

    (1). Anti-semitism does not exist in America. Self-identifying Jew Larry David urinated on a crucifix on his TV show, and suffered no blowback, none at all. His show was not canceled, he was not dragged from his car and beaten, nothing. Imagine what would happen to Andrew Lincoln or Norman Reedus if for some reason they had wiped their ass with an Israeli flag on “The Walking Dead”.

    Therefore anti-semitism in America is an imaginary beast.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  149. @edgar

    Not bad. But I vote for “enthymeme”.

  150. @Anonymous

    To make a point about how the inmates are running the asylum.

  151. @Lot

    “It is: Jews use psychological tricks to make people think and do things they are not inclined to otherwise.” Obi Wan Kenobi was a Jew?

  152. @J.Ross

    Heliotropism is a sort of turning; as the sunflower always turns its face toward the sun, wherever it may be; so it used piously to be said that man should turn always towards God.

    The tropics are the two parallel lines between which the ecliptic makes its turns at the solstices, and so forth. I don’t think this is the direct source of the use of “trope” in this context.

    Rather, the “trope” is like the refrain in a troped liturgical sequence, sung responsively. Here’s the litany:

    V. This thing is wrong
    R. The Jews are to blame
    V. That thing is wrong
    R. The Jews are to blame
    V. The other thing is wrong
    R. The Jews are to blame…
    (In saeculum saeculorum, Amen)

  153. The Merriam-Webster dictionary is to blame for this problem. It spreads incorrect, progressive meanings for words. It would be best if people stopped using it, as argued here

  154. Graham says:

    “So, what’s next once “trope” becomes as cliched as “cliche?” I’m guessing some Professor of English Literature Theory is using it right now.”

    Topos is my candidate. It can be used for a commonplace or a cliché. See

  155. “Trope” is an injection of arcane magic into mundane wibbling, like the semi-mystical aura that has developed around “algorithm”, as if it’s an eldritch invocation rather than just a step-by-step set of instructions.

  156. Anonymous[327] • Disclaimer says:
    @The Germ Theory of Disease

    That is the actual trope here.

    What is “tropeish” about it?

  157. Benjaminl says:

    “My Negro Problem — and Ours” is a classic piece of crimethink from 1963.

    Back when “neocon” referred more to “skeptical of Great Society” than “Invade the World, Invite the World.”

    • Replies: @brioche
  158. Toddy Cat says:
    @The Z Blog

    They also want to reinforce the idea that “stereotypes” are something that only white men can do, like the fashionable re-definition of “racism”

  159. Pericles says:
    @International Jew

    The musical motifs associated with the signs are known in Hebrew as niggun or neginot

    A.k.a. ‘dogwhistles’?

  160. concise says:

    Merriam Webster
    Definition of canard

    1a : a false or unfounded report or story especially : a fabricated report The report about a conspiracy proved to be a canard.
    b : a groundless rumor or belief the widespread canard that every lawyer is dishonest
    2 : an airplane with horizontal stabilizing and control surfaces in front of supporting surfaces

    I learned it when Robin said it the 1960s tv show Batman.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  161. brioche says:

    It is quite remarkable, even prescient. Thanks!

  162. @IHTG

    That was my first thought.

  163. mmack says:

    Fair enough. I posted before seeing other posters, 15 yards and an automatic first down to you for my piling on.

  164. @Achmed E. Newman

    A.M., at least we got rid of “awesome” a while back.

    I, like, hope we can soon say the same for “perfect,” “absolutely,” “mainstream,” and “MSM.”

    However, I hope “goy” becomes truly mainstream soon!

  165. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    I thought it was French for “duck”, as in the waterfowl.

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