Definition of metaphorical language

Definition of metaphorical language

Define metaphorical. metaphorical synonyms, metaphorical pronunciation, metaphorical translation, English dictionary definition of metaphorical. n. 1. A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison. Metaphor Definition. A Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated, but which share some common characteristics. In other words, a resemblance of two contradictory or different objects is made based on a single or some common characteristics. – Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

Figurative language is language that contains or uses figures of speech. When people use the term "figurative language," however, they often do so in a slightly narrower way.

In this narrower definition, figurative language refers to language that uses words in ways that deviate from their literal interpretation to achieve a more complex or powerful effect. This view of figurative language focuses on the use of figures of speech that play with the meaning of words, such as metaphor , simile , personification , and hyperbole.

Here's how to pronounce figurative language: fig -yer-uh-tiv lang -gwij.

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To fully understand figurative language, it's helpful to have a basic understanding of figures of speech. Put even more simply: tropes play with the meaning of words, while schemes play with the structure of words, phrases, and sentences. When people say figurative language, they don't always mean the precise same thing.

Here are the three different ways people usually talk about figurative language:. What does all that boil down to for you? If you hear someone talking about figurative language, you can usually safely assume they are referring to language that uses figures of speech to play with the meaning of words and, perhaps, with the way that language sounds or feels.

There are many, many types of figures of speech that can be involved in figurative language. Some of the most common are:. Many people and websites argue that imagery is a type of figurative language. That is actually incorrect. Imagery refers to a writers use of vivid and descriptive language to appeal to the reader's senses and more deeply evoke places, things, emotions, and more.

The following sentence uses imagery to give the reader a sense of how what is being described looks, feels, smells, and sounds:. The night was dark and humid, the scent of rotting vegetation hung in the air, and only the sound of mosquitoes broke the quiet of the swamp. This sentence uses no figurative language. Every word means exactly what it says, and the sentence is still an example of the use of imagery.

That said, imagery can use figurative language, often to powerful effect:.

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The night was dark and humid, heavy with a scent of rotting vegetation like a great-aunt's heavy and inescapable perfume, and only the whining buzz of mosquitoes broke the silence of the swamp. In this sentence, the description has been made more powerful through the use of a simile "like a great-aunt's To sum up: imagery is not a form of figurative language.

But a writer can enhance his or her effort to write imagery through the use of figurative language. Figurative language is more interesting, lively, beautiful, and memorable than language that's purely literal.

Figurative language is found in all sorts of writing, from poetry to prose to speeches to song lyrics, and is also a common part of spoken speech.

The examples below show a variety of different types of figures of speech.

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You can see many more examples of each type at their own specific LitChart entries. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet , Romeo uses the following metaphor in Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet , after sneaking into Juliet's garden and catching a glimpse of her on her balcony:.

Romeo compares Juliet to the sun not only to describe how radiantly beautiful she is, but also to convey the full extent of her power over him. He's so taken with Juliet that her appearances and disappearances affect him like those of the sun. His life "revolves" around Juliet like the earth orbits the sun.

In this example of a simile from Slaughterhouse-Five , Billy Pilgrim emerges from an underground slaughterhouse where he has been held prisoner by the Germans during the deadly World War II firebombing of Dresden:.

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  • It wasn't safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now , nothing but minerals.


    The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead. Vonnegut uses simile to compare the bombed city of Dresden to the moon in order to capture the totality of the devastation—the city is so lifeless that it is like the barren moon. The couple's relationship becomes a bright spot for both of them in the midst of war, but ultimately also a source of pain and confusion for Jordan, as he struggles to balance his obligation to fight with his desire to live happily by Maria's side.

    The contradiction contained within the oxymoron "scalding coolness" emphasizes the couple's conflicting emotions and impossible situation.

    Elizabeth Bennet, the most free-spirited character in Pride and Prejudice , refuses Mr. Darcy's first marriage proposal with a string of hyperbole :. From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.

    Elizabeth's closing statement, that Darcy is the "last man in the world" whom she would ever marry, is an obvious hyperbole. It's hard to believe that Elizabeth would rather marry, say, an axe murderer or a diseased pirate than Mr.

    Even beyond the obvious exaggeration, Austen's use of hyperbole in this exchange hints at the fact that Elizabeth's feelings for Darcy are more complicated than she admits, even to herself.

    Austen drops various hints throughout the beginning of the novel that Elizabeth feels something beyond mere dislike for Darcy. Taken together with these hints, Elizabeth's hyperbolic statements seem designed to convince not only Darcy, but also herself, that their relationship has no future. In Chapter 1 of The Scarlet Letter , Nathaniel Hawthorne describes a wild rose bush that grows in front of Salem's gloomy wooden jail:.

    But, on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him. In the context of the novel's setting in 17th century Boston, this rose bush, which grows wild in front of an establishment dedicated to enforcing harsh puritan values, symbolizes those elements of human nature that cannot be repressed, no matter how strict a community's moral code may be: desire, fertility, and a love of beauty.

    Metaphor Definition and Examples

    By personifying the rosebush as "offering" its blossoms to reflect Nature's pity Nature is also personified here as having a "heart" , Hawthorne turns the passive coincidence of the rosebush's location into an image of human nature actively resisting its constraints.

    Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices The use of onomatopoeia makes the audience feel the sounds on the island, rather than just have to take Caliban's word about there being noises.

    Here, "thy face" stands in for "you. Here he's using "limelight" as a metonymy for fame a "limelight" was a kind of spotlight used in old theaters, and so it came to be associated with the fame of being in the spotlight.

    Biggie's use of metonymy here also sets him up for a sweet rhyme. In his song "Rap God," Eminem shows his incredible lyrical dexterity by loading up the alliteration :. The term figurative language refers to a whole host of different figures of speech, so it's difficult to provide a single definitive answer to why writers use figurative language.

    That said, writers use figurative language for a wide variety of reasons:. In general, figurative language often makes writing feel at once more accessible and powerful, more colorful, surprising, and deep. Sign In Sign Up. Figurative Language Definition. Figurative Language Examples.

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  • Figurative Language Function. Figurative Language Resources.

    Definition of metaphorical language

    LitCharts Teacher Editions. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts.


    The original text plus a side-by-side modern translation of every Shakespeare play. LitCharts From the creators of SparkNotes, something better. Download this entire guide PDF. Figurative Language Definition What is figurative language? Some additional key details about figurative language: Figurative language is common in all sorts of writing, as well as in spoken language.

    Figurative language refers to language that contains figures of speech, while figures of speech are the particular techniques. If figurative speech is like a dance routine, figures of speech are like the various moves that make up the routine.

    It's a common misconception that imagery, or vivid descriptive language, is a kind of figurative language. In fact, writers can use figurative language as one tool to help create imagery, but imagery does not have to use figurative language. Figurative Language Pronunciation Here's how to pronounce figurative language: fig -yer-uh-tiv lang -gwij Figures of Speech and Figurative Language To fully understand figurative language, it's helpful to have a basic understanding of figures of speech.

    Tropes are figures of speech that play with and shift the expected and literal meaning of words. Schemes are figures of speech that involve a change from the typical mechanics of a sentence, such as the order, pattern, or arrangement of words.

    Here are the three different ways people usually talk about figurative language: Dictionary definition of figurative language: According to the dictionary, figurative language is simply any language that contains or uses figures of speech.

    Common Speech Examples of Metaphor

    This definition would mean that figurative language includes the use of both tropes and schemes. Much more common real world use of figurative language: However, when people including teachers refer to figurative language, they usually mean language that plays with the literal meaning of words.

    This definition sees figurative language as language that primarily involves the use of tropes.

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  • Another common real world use of figurative language: Some people define figurative language as including figures of speech that play with meaning as well as a few other common schemes that affect the rhythm and sound of text, such as alliteration and assonance. Common Types of Figurative Language There are many, many types of figures of speech that can be involved in figurative language.

    Definition of metaphorical language

    Some of the most common are: Metaphor : A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things by stating that one thing is another thing, even though this isn't literally true. For example, the phrase "her lips are a blooming rose" obviously doesn't literally mean what it says—it's a metaphor that makes a comparison between the red beauty and promise of a blooming rose with that of the lips of the woman being described.

    Simile : A simile, like a metaphor, makes a comparison between two unrelated things. However, instead of stating that one thing is another thing as in metaphor , a simile states that one thing is like another thing.

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    An example of a simile would be to say "they fought like cats and dogs. In the phrase "parting is such sweet sorrow" from Romeo and Juliet , "sweet sorrow" is an oxymoron that captures the complex and simultaneous feelings of pain and pleasure associated with passionate love.

    Hyperbole : Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration of the truth, used to emphasize the importance of something or to create a comic effect.