The Metaphor

Last updated: June 17, 2017 at 16:27 pm

metaphor photoWhat is the Metaphor?

The metaphor is the use of pictorial or imaginative language. The metaphor implies that one thing is like another in some aspect. The metaphor is “suggested” or “implied” comparison of one thing to another. The comparison is not stated directly. The words “like” or “as” are not used. If “like” or “as” is used, then the device becomes a simile.


The boy was as fast an eagle in the race. (simile)

The boy was an eagle in the race. (metaphor)

The man moved like a worm through the crowd. (simile)

The man wormed his way through the crowd. (metaphor)

The ship moved like a plough through the choppy sea. (simile)

The ship ploughed its water through the choppy sea. (metaphor)

Figurative Meanings of Words

The metaphor takes a word out of its literal meaning and give it a figurative meaning. Example, we know that a “plough” is a farm equipment. However, when I say “the ship ploughed its way through the choppy sea”, I am taking the word “plough” out of its literal meaning and giving it a figurative meaning.

Here are some more examples of metaphors taken from “Working With English” by Rennie and Anderson.

  • The boy’s father’s criticism stung his pride.

The father’s criticism is being compared to a bee with a sting.

  • The wind whipped the water into mountainous waves.

The wind is being compared to a kitchen utensil that “whips” up ingredients and the size of the waves are being compared to the size of mountains.

  • The key to the mystery was a dark sedan.

The sedan is being compared to a key that unlocks something.

  • The police combed the city for the escaped convict.

The action of the police is being compared to the action of a comb on the head.

  • In these dismal surroundings, our spirits oozed away.


  • A clump of cedars stood out against a hillside sugared with snow.

Snow is being compared to sugar.

  • Night laid her velvet hand on my face and I went to sleep.

Night is being compared to a woman?

  • On our trip we skirted the fringe of the city.


  • I cold see the friendly moonbeams on the shoulders of the mountain.

Moonbeams are being compared to friendly people, the appearance of the mountain to shoulders.

  • The valley below lay in a gloomy pool of shadow.

The appearance of the shadow is being compared to a pool.

  • After the rain, the sun peeped out of the clouds.

The sun is compared to someone who peeps from a window.

  • Eventually I reached the saddle between the two mountains.

The environment is being compared to a saddle.


What other examples of the metaphor can you think of?

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