Verbal Metaphor: Time flies. (hidden metaphor: time = bird)
Adverbial Metaphor: The car went flying down the street. (hidden metaphor: car = bird)
A metaphor MUST be noun = noun, BUT it is sometimes disguised as another part of speech.
There are lots of METAPHORS in SONGS!
"...but all that I can see... is just another
(From "Lemon Tree" by Fool's Garden)
(metaphor: lemon tree = sadness)
(metaphor meaning: see a lemon tree = to feel sadness) LISTEN to the song on YouTube.
"...just enjoy the show."
(From "The Show" by Lenka)
(metaphor: the show = life)
(metaphor meaning: enjoy the show = enjoy life) LISTEN to the song on YouTube.
is like a = b, where "a" is something
and "b" is some non-related thing, but...
there must a common ground
between "a" and "b".
For example, in English, a common
In that example:
"John" is called, "the
of the metaphor"
is called "the vehicle
of the metaphor"
arecuddly and loveable.
Many metaphors are
"hidden", i.e., not so obvious.
I made up my
mind to do something.
Therein above, the metaphor is
"hidden" from view.
The actual metaphor is:
my mind is material/matter
that can be composed.
= mind Vehicle
= material/matter that can be composed Common
Ground = both are changeable; both are able to
The phrase: "make up",
is a two-part verb.
The whole expression: "make
up one's mind", is considered a metaphor, but not in the
How do I mean?
Well, the word "mind",
alone, does not function as a metaphor. It is the
collocating verb, "make up" which makes it function as a
metaphor. Thus, it could be called a "metaphorical
expression", even though the actual metaphor is
"hidden" from view.
Let me give
you some more examples, 'cause I realize that perhaps one is not
enough for all persons to "grasp" the
concept. Hey! There's a metaphorical expression:
"Grasp a concept." Wow! Metaphors are
so common, aren't they?!
at that one: "Grasp a concept", because
there are two ways of looking at it. What we really mean, of
course, is "Understand a concept", because we cannot
actually "grasp" a concept, because a concept is
intangible (untouchable). So, there are TWO metaphors hidden
metaphor: the mind is something that has
appendages (such as hands) that can grasp Tenor
= mind Vehicle
= something that has grasping appendages Common
Ground = both can attain things
metaphor: a concept is a tangible object Tenor
= concept Vehicle
= a tangible object Common
Ground = both can be attained
not believe this but Lakoff and Johnson, (1980), in their
ground-breaking (wow! another metaphor) book, Metaphors We
Live By, estimate that 70% of our spoken language (in
English, of course) is metaphorical in nature. If you would
like to do more research on metaphors, I would highly recommend Metaphors
We Live By. It is a classic.
More for University
Different Kinds of
Lakoff and Johnson (1980) set us
(linguists) in motion to study, identify, and categorize
the different kinds of metaphors. Others have
endeavored to continue the work. To me, Lakoff and
Johnson are the fathers (a metaphor) of our understanding
of metaphors and their use in the English language.
To some it might seem like a futile waste of time in that
it may seem useless. A metaphor is a metaphor,
right? Well, yes, and no. Some metaphors
differ greatly from other metaphors. For instance,
personification is quite different than other types of
metaphors, so different, in fact, that we have had a separate
label for it long before we even recognized it as a kind
of metaphor. Herein below, I shall endeavor to
elucidate different kinds of metaphors:
There is what one
might call a "conceptual metaphor", where A is
equated with B, but they are not related, and where A is to
be understood as having a "common ground" (common
concept) with B.
Example: I am a lion.
Common Ground: strong, ferocious
Meaning: I am strong and ferocious, like a lion.
"All the world is a stage." (Shakespeare)
Common Ground: place for acting
Meaning: The world is a place for people to act our
their lives, as if they were on a stage.
There is what is called a
"dead metaphor", where the metaphor has become so
institutionalized, that it is NOT recognized as a metaphor
We know that "cycle" means circle, as in
"bicycle" (two circles), but the word
"cycle" by itself connotes a series of events that
repeat over and over again. We don't think in terms of
a cycle as being a circle until we try to depict it in
diagram form. In essence, we are NOT trying to
understand the word "cycle" in terms of a circle;
therefore, the metaphor is "dead".
Hidden Conceptual Metaphors
Life is so bittersweet.
metaphor MUST BE: noun = noun. "Sweet"
is an adjective; therefore, the actual metaphor is
hidden. It is based upon a conceptual metaphor:
likeable thing = good taste (sweet) and unlikable thing =
bad taste (bitter).
Meaning: Life is
full of unlikable things as well as likable things.
(4) Extended Metaphors
Life is a journey. You can take the high
road or the low road. You should stop along
the way to smell the roses. If you live life in
the fast lane, you're bound to cut your life/journey
short. Sometimes the road is rocky, sometimes
it is smooth going. Sometimes you encounter a dead
end, and you have to try a different road.
The journey of life is so much more enjoyable if you
have a traveling companion.
The conceptual metaphor is "life is a
journey". However, I have extended that metaphor
into an analogy.
who can climb like a cat, usually climbing through a window to
enter a building; especially a window on an upper floor.
My house got
hit by a cat burglar last night.
than one way to skin a cat.
than one way to do something.
Dog gone it!
damn it" with first letters swapped.
"Let the sleeping dog lie, son. Dog, gone it! I'm dog tired. I'm tired of leading a dog's life, fightin' like cats and dogs against cats and dogs; young pups doggin' my trail trying to become top dog. I'm going to the dogs in dog-eat-dog world, son."
- Wylie Burp
(An American Tail: Fievel Goes West)
It's a dog-eat-dog world.
There are plenty of people in the world who will
take advantage of you, if given the chance.
to be dog-tired.
I'm really tired.
work like a dog.
work really hard.
sick as a dog.
really, very sick.
to go to the
status, to become useless, to become out-dated, etc.
go home and kick the dog
relieve one's stress or anger, by hurting an
Let sleeping dogs lie.
Let bygones be bygones.
dog one's trail (verb phrase)
best person (at doing
the weaker party in a competition
pages with one corner folded down
1.wiener/frank/sausage link on a bun
"in the doghouse"
to be out of
one's good graces; especially out of a woman's good graces;
especially out of one's wife's good graces
War / Battle idiomatic expression
(figure of speech)
Type of Figure of Speech
Life is a
Living life is like a constant struggle to stay alive.
Metaphor: Life is a war.
"Intellect takes us along in the battle of life to a certain limit, but at the crucial moment it fails us. Faith transcends reason. It is when the horizon is the darkest and human reason is beaten down to the ground that faith shines brightest and comes to our rescue."
- Mahatma Gandhi
half the battle.
Getting started on a project is half of the difficulty
in getting it done.
4. red card = foul (can be used as a linguistic
metaphor as well as a symbol)
5. red carpet, as in "roll out the red
carpet" = royal treatment; treat like royalty
1. to be yellow = to be cowardly
ORIGIN: It is the
educated opinion of this author that the origin of this colorful metaphor has nothing
to do with skin color. It comes from the metaphor:
yellowbelly. Originally, a yellowbelly is a kind of lizard with a
yellow belly indigenous to the Western U.S.A.. The metaphorical
meaning is a coward. The common ground between (1) a
cowardly person and (2) a yellowbelly lizard is:
they both run away to
avoid a confrontation with someone or something bigger than they
2. yellow card = warning
1. to be green = to be immature; to be new at
2. greenie = a
newbie, a novice; a neophyte
3. green thumb = skill at growing plants
4. greens = green vegetables [this is not a
metaphor, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway]
5. green light = safe to proceed
1. to be blue = to be sad
2. blue skies = happiness [rain = sadness, grief]
3. to be blue in the face = to be exasperated [not a
metaphor; just thought I'd throw it in]
4. the blues = sad songs
5. "singing the blues" = being sad, being
1. purple heart = bravery
1. lily white = innocent; pure
2. white as the driven snow = pure white [this is a
simile, not a metaphor]
3. white glove = inspection (comes from the
military, where inspectors use white gloves to inspect the cleanliness of
4. "whities" = Caucasians (those with pale skin)
[this is a metonymy, not a metaphor]
5. white head = a pimple with a white top [this is a
metonymy (white), mixed with a metaphor (head)]
1. black = tainted, impure, wicked
2. black-hearted = wicked
3. to be in the black = to be out of financial
((sth)) = something; ((sb)) = somebody
Figures of Speech
Do you know what
these figures of speech mean?
To be tongue-tied
Tongue in cheek
a slip of the tongue
To speak in tongues.
Cat got your tongue?
To have a forked tongue
To have a silver tongue
Hold your tongue!
Do you know what
these figures of speech mean?
No bones about it.
...the bare bones of ((sth))
To work one's fingers to the bone
To have a bone to pick with ((sb))
To be bony
To be skin and bones
To commit a boner
To be bone idle
To be a lazybones
To be close to the bone
To consult the bones
To be dry as a bone
To be chilled to the bone
To cut to the bone
To feel ((sth)) in one's bones
To have a skeleton in the closet
To throw ((sb)) a bone
To suck the marrow out of life
Tongue twisters (noun metaphor): phrases
that are hard to speak because they make your tongue do things it doesn't
Tongue-tied (adjective metaphor): To be
tongue-tied means to have trouble speaking; your tongue finds it hard to
say the words correctly.
Tongue-in-cheek (adverb metaphor): To say
something "with tongue in cheek" means to say something you
don't really mean; it has a double meaning or a metaphorical meaning and
the meaning intended is not the literal meaning.
Slip of the tongue (noun metaphor): Your
tongue doesn't actually slip. It means that you say something by
Speak in tongues (verb metaphor): Tongue
also means language; So, to speak in tongues means to speak in other
languages other than the mother tongue.
Can got your tongue? (metaphor): It
means: Can't you speak?
Forked tongue (noun phrase metaphor): To
have a forked tongue means one says one thing, while intending
another. It means Liar.
Silver tongue (noun phrase metaphor): To
have a silver tongue means one is a great speaker.
Hold your tongue! (verb phrase metaphor):
It doesn't mean you literally hold your tongue in your hand. It
means to stop speaking.
Please, check out my Tongue Twisters
It's a lot of fun!
Just click on the pic.
No bones about it. (Or: There's
no bones about it.) = [noun metaphor] It means that there is no doubt about
...the bare bones of ((sth)). = [noun
basic facts about ((sth)).
To work one's fingers to the bone = [verbal
phrase metaphor] to work
truly hard doing physical labor.
To have a bone to pick with ((sb)) = [noun
metaphor] to have
an issue / problem with ((sb)) that one wishes to discuss with that
To be bony = [metonymy] to be skinny; so much so that
one can see the outline of the bones through the skin.
To be skin and bones = same as above.
To commit a boner = [noun metaphor] to make a mistake (an embarrassing
mistake). [Be careful!!!! "To have a boner" is
vulgar an not appropriate in polite company. I'm not going to
To be bone idle = [adjective metaphor] to be sedentary, like
To be a lazybones = [metonymy] to be a lazy person.
To be close to the bone = [metaphor] to be a truth that
is offensive to ((sb)).
To consult the bones (To throw the bones) =
[literal] to do a kind of divination that uses a set of bones, which after thrown
down are then interpreted by the way that they lay.
To be dry as a bone = [simile] to be very dry.
To be chilled to the bone = [prob. literal]
((sb)) to be
very cold; so cold that they can feel it in their bones.
To cut to the bone = [verbal phrase
metaphor] to hurt one's feelings
To feel ((sth)) in one's bones = [verbal
phrase metaphor] to have
intuition about ((sth)).
To have a skeleton in the closet = [noun
metaphor] to have
secrets--secrets which are embarrassing to the individual.
To throw ((sb)) a bone = [verbal phrase
metaphor] to give somebody a
hint or a bit of help in a situation to help that person succeed.
To suck the marrow out of life = [verbal
phrase metaphor] to live
life to the fullest satisfaction and contentment.
X-mas Figures of Speech
Christmas Figures of Speech
Christmas is often abbreviated as
"X-mas," but do you know why?
Because "Christ" in Greek is
This is more like an abbreviation, rather than a figure of speech, but I
include it here, because it comes from a foreign language, and when you
mix two languages, it is called 'code-switching'. It could
therefore be considered as a figure of speech.
2. Being on "the naughty
According to tradition, Santa Claus has
two lists: the nice list and the naughty list. The nice list
is for good little children, who deserve presents from Santa
Claus. Those on the naughty list are the bad children who do not
get presents from Santa Claus.
So, this idiomatic expression is used as
a figure of speech quite metaphorically. For instance, let's say
person A is talking with person B. Their conversation might go
B: Oh, my! How could you do
that? I'm putting you on the naughty list. And Santa's not
going to bring you presents this year.
Explanation: You see, no one
actually, literally puts another on a literal list. It is just an
3. Santa's helpers
Children started to get wise to all the
different people dressed up as Santa Claus, so it has been generally
accepted that they aren't the real Santa. The real Santa is too
busy to go to every mall in America. So, he sends out his
"helpers" (impersonators). So, all those people you see
out there dressed up as Santa are his "helpers," who report
back to the real Santa. I'm not sure what kind of figure of speech
this would be, but it's a fun one.
4. Elf on the Shelf
A Christmas tradition where a family has
a little toy elf on a shelf. Each morning the children search the
house to find where the elf is (as somehow it is moved in the night when
the children are sleeping). This tradition stems from the old
tradition that Santa Claus sends out his elves to spy on little
children, to see if they are being naughty or nice.
So, metaphorically, "elf on the
shelf" is sometimes used to refer to the government spying on its
5. The 12 Days of Christmas
There is a popular Christmas song
entitled, "The 12 Days of Christmas," which really doesn't
make any sense, because it would be quite expensive for anyone to
provide those gifts and most could not actually afford all those
gifts. According to Yahoo
Finance, it would cost at least 39 thousand dollars in 2018.