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[al-uh-gawr-ee, -gohr-ee] /ˈæl əˌgɔr i, -ˌgoʊr i/
noun, plural allegories.
a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.
a symbolical narrative: the allegory of Piers Plowman.
emblem (def 3).
Origin of allegory
1350-1400; Middle English allegorie < Latin allēgoria < Greek allēgoría, derivative of allēgoreîn to speak so as to imply something other. See allo-, agora1 Greek agoreúein to speak, proclaim, orig. meant to act (e.g., speak) in the assembly
2. fable, parable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for allegory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The allegory is the life of its author cast in an imaginative form.


    James Anthony Froude
  • They've got no use for Beauty, allegory, all that high-brow racket.

  • Khalid proceeds with his allegory of the Muleteer and the Pack-Mule.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • The composite animal in Book IX is an allegory of the parts of the soul.

    The Republic Plato
  • The allegory has a political as well as a philosophical meaning.

    The Republic Plato
British Dictionary definitions for allegory


noun (pl) -ries
a poem, play, picture, etc, in which the apparent meaning of the characters and events is used to symbolize a deeper moral or spiritual meaning
the technique or genre that this represents
use of such symbolism to illustrate truth or a moral
anything used as a symbol or emblem
Derived Forms
allegorist, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French allegorie, from Latin allēgoria, from Greek, from allēgorein to speak figuratively, from allos other + agoreuein to make a speech in public, from agora a public gathering
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for allegory

late 14c., from Old French allegorie (12c.), from Latin allegoria, from Greek allegoria "figurative language, description of one thing under the image of another," literally "a speaking about something else," from allos "another, different" (see alias) + agoreuein "speak openly, speak in the assembly," from agora "assembly" (see agora).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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allegory in Culture
allegory [(al-uh-gawr-ee)]

A story that has a deeper or more general meaning in addition to its surface meaning. Allegories are composed of several symbols or metaphors. For example, in The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, the character named Christian struggles to escape from a bog or swamp. The story of his difficulty is a symbol of the difficulty of leading a good life in the “bog” of this world. The “bog” is a metaphor or symbol of life's hardships and distractions. Similarly, when Christian loses a heavy pack that he has been carrying on his back, this symbolizes his freedom from the weight of sin that he has been carrying.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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