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metaphor Line breaks: meta|phor
Pronunciation: /ˈmɛtəfə/

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: when we speak of gene maps and gene mapping, we use a cartographic metaphor [mass noun]: her poetry depends on suggestion and metaphor
More example sentences
  • Images are often presented through figures of speech like simile and metaphor.
  • It is his method of organising words, images and metaphors to create the particular effect he seeks to achieve.
  • Her daily speech is sprinkled with metaphors and witty turns of phrase.
figure of speech, figurative expression, image, trope, allegory, parable, analogy, comparison, symbol, emblem, word painting, word picture
literary conceit
1.1A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else: the amounts of money being lost by the company were enough to make it a metaphor for an industry that was teetering
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • In the story, this inability to finish a picture is a metaphor for being reluctant to commit to a relationship.


Late 15th century: from French métaphore, via Latin from Greek metaphora, from metapherein 'to transfer'.

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