Metaphor – Meaning and 10 examples of metaphor


Metaphor – Meaning and 10 examples of metaphor


Don’t you just love Poetry and its interesting forms? Figures of speech as metaphors is what gives life to poetry. Williams Shakespeare knew the value of this tool…” shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” in his unique sonnet 18 poem or in his rhyming couplet “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” You can feel words taking their first air. Metaphors are active representations of plain thought.

Metaphors are a special kind of literary device, used to show a direct comparison between two things that are unlike. Metaphors could be regarded as figures of speech or as poetic devices.

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They perform a special effect of being able to relate the characteristics of one thing to another directly. In this sentence “on Wednesdays, I am the speed of lightning on the hockey pitch”, a metaphor is employed. The speaker is able to directly relate how fast he goes on the pitch on Wednesdays, to the speed of lightning, implying that he is really fast on Wednesdays.

Notice the use of metaphors in this sentence- Tunde is a bad egg in my family. The sentence seems to be an idiomatic expression and yes it is when translated, but what we are concerned with is the use of metaphor in the sentence. The metaphor is used when the speaker directly compares Tunde to a bad egg.

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Tunde is the name of a person while an egg is produced by a hen. This tells you that “Tunde” and “egg” are very unlike and share little or no similarities. Directly comparing Tunde and a bad egg is what makes the statement metaphorical.

When a person says “that unmarried middle-aged man who lives alone is a dog”, the person does not imply that the man is a dog who can shapeshift into a man at will, it rather is one inscription drenched in metaphor. There is the direct comparison of two unlike elements, a man and a dog. The sentence literally means that the man is promiscuous and sexually loose just like a dog.

When motivational speakers say “unleash the giant in you”, they do not literally mean that you have a ten-foot-tall man inside of you with big muscles and a big hand who you can pull through your mouth out into the world. No! “Unleash the giant in you” is a metaphor that means you have the capacity and power of a giant, even if you’re just pinky little, It means you’ve got great potentials that need to be unleashed.

Also Read: Examples Of Hyperbole – Meaning, Description And 30 Examples

Metaphors make listening, writing and speaking interesting.

Another example of a popular metaphor is “for you to be successful in life, you’ve got to be hungry”(Les Brown). This popular phrase or rightly put this phrase is one Les Brown is known around the world for, amidst his other speeches. Just as is common to Metaphors, “hungry” here is an unlike word, being directly compared with “success”.

Explained literally, the phrase makes no sense, reasons being that hunger to a man would weaken the body cells and overtime cause death and a dead man is nowhere near success. Metaphorically understood, the hunger stands for a serious desire for something; therefore it makes sense to say that to be successful in life, you’ve got to really want it.

Also See: Onomatopoeia and 48 examples

When a member of a family comes to visit and comments saying “wow, you’ve grown as a palm tree” They are simply employing metaphors to say that the kids at home have grown tall – not the height of palm tree, and sometimes not even as tall as some shrubs but you’re twice as tall from the last visit.

Various people in trying to define life from their perspective, have favoured the use of metaphors. Some of these metaphors include:

1. Life is a drooling sea

2. Life is a little child

3. Life is an open book

4. Life is an empty sea

5. Life is a question seeking an answer

6. Life is an unending story

7. Life is a long connected string

8. Life is an uncertain beat from a drum

9. Life is a little eaglet learning to fly

10. Life is a moment.

All these are just to mention a few of the examples of metaphors used to describe life. In all the above-listed examples, one cannot help but notice the direct comparison of life to various things. A drooling sea, literally meaning that life moves in various directions, you just need to steer.

A little child, meaning that life is innocent and ought to be nurtured. An open book, meaning that life is full of opportunities waiting for the taking. Metaphors, Metaphors and metaphors. The beauty in metaphors cannot be overemphasized.

Igbaji Ugabi Chinwendu, from Cross River State, Nigeria. As a Business Educator, he is profoundly interested in teaching and managing business. Started blogging 2010 and officially 2013. He holds the esteemed positions of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director at Freemanbiz Communication and Writers King LTD, demonstrating his leadership and expertise in the field.


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