topos [ˈtɒpɒs] n. Plural topoi.
1.) A traditional motif or theme (in a literary composition); a rhetorical commonplace, a literary convention or formula (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).
Etymology: adoption of Greek τόπος, place. The use of τόπος for a class of considerations which would serve as a "place" in which a rhetorician might look for suggestions in treating his theme, goes back to Isocrates. By Aristotle, τόπος was especially appropriated to classes of considerations of a general character, common to many kinds of subjects, the use of which was open to any one dealing with his subject as a rhetorician or dialectician, not with special knowledge, with a view to scientific demonstration. Such were more fully described as κοινοὶ τόποι, loci communes, commonplaces.
"I am sorry. I have such respect for this woman that I just cannot show her to you in the light he shadow deserves. I am lovesick, and ungrown, and know no trope or toponymic topoi, no image worthy. I have to play the supplicant here; ask you simply to eat some raw bare propositions I can't prepare or flavor enough to engage your real imagination" ("Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way", David Foster Wallace, 1989).