Definition of prosopopoeia in English:

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Pronunciation: /prəˌsōpəˈpēə/


1A figure of speech in which an abstract thing is personified.
Example sentences
  • To stress apostrophe, personification, prosopopoeia, and hyperbole is to join the theorists who through the ages have emphasized what distinguishes the lyric from other speech acts, what makes it the most literary of forms.
  • In the short stories, disease and illness are deployed as prosopopoeia, the cruelly indifferent natural forces that control life and death.
  • That Johnson includes extended prosopopoeia in his periodical so as to ‘instruct by pleasing’ may seem too unremarkable to mention, let alone to require discussion.
2A figure of speech in which an imagined or absent person or thing is represented as speaking.
Example sentences
  • Can one not wager that it is Agnes ‘herself’ come to voice, and the cry the resuscitated irruptive voice of the dead, a true, unexpected prosopopoeia?
  • These stories exercise a powerful hold upon the imagination, even though prosopopoeia plays a role in the visions not markedly different from its role in the genealogies.
  • The paradoxes of citation and prosopopoeia (speaking for/as others) common to the virtuoso and to the writer are threads that run through chapters six through eight.


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek prosōpopoiia, from prosōpon 'person' + poiein 'to make'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pro·so·po·poe·ia

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