[ al-uh-gawr-ee, -gohr-ee ]
See synonyms for allegory on
noun,plural al·le·go·ries.
  1. a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.

  2. a symbolical narrative: the allegory of Piers Plowman.

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Origin of allegory

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English allegorie, from Latin allēgoria, from Greek allēgoría, derivative of allēgoreîn “to speak so as to imply something else; speak allegorically,” equivalent to állos “other, another” + agoreúein “to speak (in an assembly), address, harangue,” a derivative of agorá; see origin at allo-, agora1

Other words for allegory

Words Nearby allegory Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use allegory in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for allegory


/ (ˈælɪɡərɪ) /

nounplural -ries
  1. 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

  2. the technique or genre that this represents

  1. use of such symbolism to illustrate truth or a moral

  2. anything used as a symbol or emblem

Origin of allegory

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

Derived forms of allegory

  • allegorist, noun

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

Cultural definitions for 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 (see also symbol) 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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.