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From Middle English allegorie, from Old French allegorie, from Latin allegoria, from Ancient Greek ἀλληγορία (allēgoría), from ἄλλος (állos, other) + ἀγορεύω (agoreúō, I speak).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈæl.ɪˌɡɔː.ɹi/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈæl.əˌɡɔɹ.i/
  • (file)


allegory (countable and uncountable, plural allegories)

  1. (rhetoric) A narrative in which a character, place, or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences.
    • 1834, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara, volume 2, pages 30-31:
      Ah! the Roman emperor, who desired that his slavery might be alleviated by his fetters being made of gold, was a very rational person. I have always considered it an allegory, showing the necessity of marrying for money.
    • [1835, L[arret] Langley, A Manual of the Figures of Rhetoric, [], Doncaster: Printed by C. White, Baxter-Gate, OCLC 1062248511, page 5:
      Allegory Metaphors continues still,
      Which with new graces every sentence fill.
  2. A picture, book, or other form of communication using such representation.
  3. A symbolic representation which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, usually a moral or political one.
    • 1834, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara, volume 1, page 11:
      There were casts of the Gladiator—he whose native courage struggled against the doom which was yet welcome—a mournful allegory of honour.
  4. (mathematics, category theory) A category that retains some of the structure of the category of binary relations between sets, representing a high-level generalisation of that category.

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