How does one correctly use the word "allegory" in a sentence? For example:

This story is an allegory [for|of] pride.

I have seen examples of both:

the long poem is an allegory of love and jealousy


To that extent, are his experiences an allegory for life?


  • Normally it would be an "allegory of " something. However, it is possible for some contexts to require the preposition for: "The Lord of the Rings is an allegory for the World Wars" (Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory ) – Kris Jan 12 '15 at 7:17
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    There are two ways to refer to an allegory. One is the title of it, which refers to the literal elements in the story, as "the allegory of the Cave" , as cited in the Wikipedia article you mentioned. The other way to refer to it is in regard to the things it symbolizes. In that sense, one uses "for" , e.g. It is an allegory for human self-centeredness. The syntax works the same for "parable". – Brian Hitchcock Jan 12 '15 at 7:41
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    I'd like to say the difference hinges on how 'tight' the allegory is. Thus 'an allegory of the life of Francis of Assisi' but 'an allegory for life'. But, after searching on Google, I've found that 'allegory of' is by far the more common choice no matter how specific or general the events being allegorised. I'll continue to buck the trend. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 12 '15 at 10:31
  • @BrianHitchcock, this makes the most sense. Why don't you add it as an answer? – mydoghasworms Jan 12 '15 at 11:53
  • can't cut/paste it and too lazy to type it again. Thanks for the compliment, though. – Brian Hitchcock Jan 12 '15 at 11:57

Allegory of seems to be overwhelmingly favored over allegory for, per this Ngram. The Ngram utility does not allow my attempted comparison of “Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory for/of,” but with the “Pilgrim’s” removed it showed no hits at all for the for option and some for the of option. Trials of “read/interpreted as an allegory of/for” also showed strong preference for of.

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