Learn 1000s of English words with our vocabulary builder.
What Is a Metaphor? (with Examples)A metaphor asserts that one thing is something that it literally is not. A metaphor is a figure of speech.
Examples of MetaphorsHere are some examples of metaphors:
- She is a fox.
- Dave is a bad apple.
- His face was a blue moon pocked with craters.
- Her eyes were darting searchlights, scanning the room for her rival.
- An icy stare
The bottom line is this: If something is being re-identified as (i.e., not compared to) something that it literally is not, then you're looking at a metaphor.
Famous Metaphors (Examples)Here are some metaphors by famous people:
- Conscience is a manís compass. (Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, 1853-1890)
- All religions, arts, and sciences are branches of the same tree. (Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, 1879-1955)
- All at once he was alone in this noisy hive with no place to roost. (Tom Wolfe)
Funny Metaphors (Examples)Here are some funny metaphors:
- Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke.
- John and Mary had never met. They were two hummingbirds who had also never met.
- True friends stab you in the front. (Oscar Wilde)
A Quick Test
- This test has questions.
- You will score at least 5 points for a correct answer.
- You will score bonus points for answering the questions quickly.
- Be careful though. Wrong answers score 0 points.
- The maximum score is .
Take the similes test.
METAPHORS CAN BE IMPACTFULUsed sparingly in business writing (e.g., just once in the occasional document), metaphors can:
- Be memorable.
- Make an impact.
- Be used for emphasis.
- Make you look confident.
- Option 1 is throwing the pilot from a stricken aircraft to make it lighter.
OVERUSE OF METAPHORSWhile a metaphor can be a great way to clarify or promote an idea in a business document, the overuse of metaphors looks flippant. Metaphors which are cliches (i.e., a tired metaphor) also look bad.
Use metaphors very sparingly in business writing to ensure they remain impactful.
- Do you disagree with something on this page?
- Did you spot a typo?