Meaning of prosopopoeia in English:


Pronunciation /ˌprɒsəpəˈpiːə/


mass noun
  • 1A figure of speech in which an abstract thing is personified.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘‘Putting on of a face’ leads only to another mask, another prosopopoeia, so that the self is endlessly dislocated backwards in a process of cultural archaeology until he uncovers the archetypal figure of Natural Man.’
    • ‘Thus, when he contemplates the human condition, Johnson turns naturally to prosopopoeia, and much of the grandeur of his prose derives from his frequent recourse to this kind of figurative language.’
  • 2A figure of speech in which an imagined, absent, or dead person or thing is represented as speaking.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘Critics also tend to regard the play's action as prompted by an act of prosopopoeia: an old man remembers and his memories somehow conjure the images or the spirits of the dead.’


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