Figure of Speech

What Is a Figure of Speech? (with Examples)

A figure of speech is an expression in which the words are not used in their literal sense.

A figure of speech is designed to portray an idea more clearly or more interestingly. The most common types of figures of speech are metaphors, similes, idioms, personification, hyperbole, and euphemisms

Note: Some sources do not differentiate between a figure of speech and figurative language. As the term figurative language includes techniques that might employ the literal meanings of words (e.g., alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia), an alternative definition for figure of speech is the use of words in an unusual or imaginative manner.

Examples of Figures of Speech

Here are some examples of figures of speech in the categories which most commonly employ words in their non-literal meaning:


A metaphor asserts that one thing is something that it literally is not. For example:


A simile likens one thing to another (usually achieved by the use of the word like or as). For example:


Personification is when non-human objects are given human traits. For example:


Hyperbole is an exaggeration or extravagant statement used for effect. For example:


An idiom is commonly used expression whose meaning does not relate to the literal meaning of its words. For example:


A euphemism is the use of agreeable or inoffensive words to replace rude or offensive ones. For example:

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See Also

What is figurative language? What does literal meaning mean? What is a metaphor? What is a simile? What is personification? What is hyperbole? What is an idiom? What is a euphemism? What is alliteration? What is assonance? What is consonance? What is a logosglyph? What is onomatopoeia? Glossary of grammatical terms