What Is Figurative Language (with Examples)
Figurative language is the use of words in an unusual or imaginative manner. Often figurative language involves the use of a metaphor
, a simile
, a euphemism
, and pun. However, as the term figurative language
also covers unusual or imaginative word constructions (and not just word meanings), it also includes alliteration
, and logosglyphs
Examples of Figurative Language
When most people think of figurative language, similes and metaphors spring to mind. However, the term figurative language
covers a wide range of literary techniques. Here are some examples of figurative language in each of the categories:
A metaphor asserts that one thing is something that it literally is not. For example:
- It is a house of cards.
- Her eyes were darting torches.
- Time is money.
- An icy stare
A simile likens one thing to another (usually achieved by the use of the word like
). For example:
- She is as cute as a kitten.
- This cake is as dry as a bone.
- He swims like a torpedo.
- Ghost-like eyes
Personification is when non-human objects are given human traits. For example:
- The leaves danced in the wind.
- My computer throws a tantrum at least once a day.
- Autumn's icy touch
- Creeping time
Hyperbole is an exaggeration or extravagant statement used for effect. For example:
- I could eat a scabby horse.
- They've got truckloads of money.
- I nearly died of embarrassment.
- It's a million times better.
An idiom is commonly used expression whose meaning does not relate to the literal meaning of its words. For example:
- I'll be pushing up the daisies.
- It's a piece of cake.
- Do not let the cat out of the bag.
- You've hit the nail on the head.
A euphemism is the use of agreeable or inoffensive words to replace rude or offensive ones. For example:
- didnít make it = has died
- between jobs = unemployed
- exotic dancer = stripper
A pun is a witticism that plays on the different meanings of a word or two words which sound alike but have different meanings. For example:
- It's hard to beat a boiled egg.
- I'm an honest cheetah.
- Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Alliteration is the repetition of the same initial letter in successive words for effect. For example:
- Those purple pigs are preposterous.
- She sells seashells down by the seashore.
- Smile. Speak. Serve.
Assonance is the repetition of the same vowel sound in neighbouring words. For example:
- Hear, not fear, the wisdom of wizards.
- We received three emails.
- Cats bat at yarn balls.
Consonance is the repetition of the same consonant sound in neighbouring words (but not at the front Ė that's alliteration). For example:
- She swung her fist in angst against the beast.
- The big dog dug a hole.
- Think tank
Onomatopoeia is the use of a word which sounds like what it represents. For example:
- The rocket whooshed in the sky.
- Are they sausages I can hear sizzling?
- The dish clattered against the floor tiles.