Definition of metaphor in English:



  • 1A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

    ‘“I had fallen through a trapdoor of depression,” said Mark, who was fond of theatrical metaphors’
    [mass noun] ‘her poetry depends on suggestion and metaphor’
    • ‘Poetry aims to speak death through metaphors but metaphors also defer rather than confer meaning.’
    • ‘So I went on to talk about metaphors you know, and similes and figures of speech.’
    • ‘Images are often presented through figures of speech like simile and metaphor.’
    • ‘I've been working really hard on improving my metaphors and similes and the like.’
    • ‘As early as the 16th century theorists had compared musical figures to metaphors.’
    • ‘Neither can a concern with the ear and the eye be taken simply as a reading of particular metaphors, however powerfully conceived.’
    • ‘But we should not be tempted to construe these metaphors literally.’
    • ‘Kids take metaphors literally, which mean that a frog in your throat will be slimy, living and likely to hop out onto the kitchen floor.’
    • ‘The dream contains all the violence of a given situation but it sits veiled in metaphors and images.’
    • ‘No longer will one or two tropes or metaphors serve to characterize the poetic work done by women.’
    • ‘Although there is no use of metaphors or similes, there are beautiful descriptions in this book.’
    • ‘We thrive on metaphors and similes, and we place ourselves within contexts of known stories and mythologies.’
    • ‘It is his method of organising words, images and metaphors to create the particular effect he seeks to achieve.’
    • ‘We think in similes and metaphors; some people simply carry the levels of identification farther than others.’
    • ‘Her daily speech is sprinkled with metaphors and witty turns of phrase.’
    • ‘Cut adjectives, adverbs, similes and metaphors which do not shed light or develop the narrative voice.’
    • ‘The description is literal, concrete and concise, rarely using metaphors or similes to extend the image.’
    • ‘In this way as if scenarios are not metaphors but are performative approaches or enactments.’
    • ‘I doubt I have ever read a novel with so many extravagantly nonsensical similes and rococo metaphors.’
    • ‘Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.’
    figure of speech, figurative expression, image, trope, allegory, parable, analogy, comparison, symbol, emblem, word painting, word picture
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    1. 1.1A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract.
      ‘the amounts of money being lost by the company were enough to make it a metaphor for an industry that was teetering’
      • ‘He is a recurring metaphor for the colour and movement of Australians at play.’
      • ‘I like to think of the rats as a metaphor for the city's egalitarianism.’
      • ‘From what I've read the film is more of a metaphor for home coming/coming out.’
      • ‘The book's title is, of course, a metaphor for what she as a writer does.’
      • ‘This could be seen as a metaphor for writing fiction, but the story itself seems too schematic.’
      • ‘What kept me reading was how the novel worked as such a creepy metaphor for contemporary America.’
      • ‘I prefer to think that stiff-neckedness is a metaphor for being stubbornly set in one's ways.’
      • ‘Throughout the film, the necklace serves as a metaphor for her freedom to live a life of her choosing.’
      • ‘Somehow niggling at my brain is this apartment as a metaphor for the Korean Way of Doing Things.’
      • ‘In the story, this inability to finish a picture is a metaphor for being reluctant to commit to a relationship.’
      • ‘The title is a metaphor for the need to satisfy cravings that perhaps we do not always fully recognize.’
      • ‘It's almost a metaphor for immigrant life, which has to be retooled to succeed in America.’
      • ‘What is known is that the ball was a metaphor for the movement of the sun, and by extension also of the moon and stars.’
      • ‘So if my garden is a metaphor for my life now then I'm in big trouble!’
      • ‘Smoking is an epidemic; it is a metaphor for cancer in its spread as much as it is for infecting people with cancer.’
      • ‘Yet its importance as a metaphor for evil means that the coalition remains desperate to exorcise these demons.’
      • ‘The torso also includes the heart, a metaphor for your vital life force, as well as representing the bonds of love.’
      • ‘I had also meant for this story to be a metaphor for my own life as I knew it and saw it.’
      • ‘This would be a good metaphor for something, no doubt, if I could only pin it down.’
      • ‘The metaphor of consumption dominates this speech and connects each image.’
      parable, analogy, symbol, emblem
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Late 15th century: from French métaphore, via Latin from Greek metaphora, from metapherein to transfer.