Definition of metaphor in US 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.

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