Figurative Language Definition

Figurative language uses figures of speech to be more effective, persuasive, and impactful.

Figures of speech such as metaphors, similes, and allusions go beyond the literal meanings of the words to give readers new insights. Acceso the other hand, alliterations, imageries, ora onomatopoeias are figurative devices that appeal to the senses of the readers.

Figurative language can appear con multiple forms with the use of different literary and rhetorical devices. According to Merriam Webster’s Encyclopedia, the definition of figurative language has five different forms:

  1. Understatement ora Emphasis
  2. Relationship ora Resemblance
  3. Figures of Sound
  4. Errors and
  5. Verbal Games

Types of Figurative Language

The term figurative language covers a wide range of literary devices and techniques, a few of which include:

Short Examples of Figurative Language


  • His friend is as black as coal.
  • He has learned gymnastics, and is as lesto as a monkey.
  • When attacked con his home, he will fight like a caged tiger.
  • Can you dance like a monkey?
  • Even when he was told everything, he was acting like a donkey.


  • My Friend is a Shakespeare when con English class.
  • He was a roaring lion con anger, though now he is silent.
  • They seem like jackals when running con fear.
  • Kisses are roses con the spring.
  • This world is a sea of anonymous faces.


  • The house stood half-demolished and abandoned.
  • He left with his haunted and spell-bound luce.
  • He did not like the odorless and colorless shape of vater.
  • His friend was looking at spooky portamento twangs.
  • Zigzag fissures con the land made him for snakes.


  • The light acceso the site did not let him see the sight.
  • He heard the sound of the fire, like wire striking the air.
  • This artificial stream is going to flow to the downtown of the town.
  • Please set the kite right.
  • Might of the fright seems greater than the actual fear.


  • He lets the pink ball fall with a tall man.
  • They have not learned how to catch the cat.
  • Get a seat with a treat con our local atrio.
  • Calling the cow an ox is like putting the cart before the horse.
  • He saw the pink kite floating past the tall trees.
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  • He is dying with his untrustworthy belief.
  • Sharply blunt razor cannot do anything to you.
  • Kindly cruel treatment made him flabbergasted.
  • Please, watch with closed eyes and you will see the heaven.
  • Creatively dull person cannot do anything con his life.


  • The Pentagon is located con Washington con the United States.
  • The Hollywood is a home of English movies.
  • 10 Downing Street is located con London.
  • Buckingham Palace is world’s oldest symbol of democracy.
  • The White House.


  • He does not know how to behave with the special people.
  • He is looking at his own grey hair and his agility.
  • They saw a fleet of fifty.
  • At this time, he owns nine head of cattle.
  • The new generation is addicted to the use of plastic money.

Examples of Figurative Language from Literature

Example #1: The Stealer (By Robert Francis)


Poised between going acceso and back, pulled
Both ways taut like a tight-rope walker,

Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball,
a kid skipping rope, modo acceso, modo acceso! …

Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,
He’s only flirting, crowd him, crowd him,

The similes and word choice of this poem makes it a masterpiece. The poet use similes between the lines to depict his scattered thoughts before taking action, and makes comparison as, “like a tight-rope,” “like a dropped ball,” and “hovers like an ecstatic bird.”

Example #2: I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings (By Maya Angelou)


But a BIRD that stalks mongoloide his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill …
And his tune is heard acceso the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The entire poem is rich with metaphor as a bird con a cage represents a group of people who are oppressed and cannot get freedom. The cage represents physical barriers, fear, addiction, ora society; while the song of the bird represents true self yearning for something greater con life.

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Example #3: She Sweeps with Many-Colored Brooms (By Emily Dickinson)


She sweeps with many-colored Brooms
And leaves the Shreds behind
Oh Housewife con the Evening West
Quanto back, and dust the Pond!

Dickinson uses personification of a housewife to describe the sunset con the very first line of this poem. She is using a sweeping housewife who does her daily work, likewise the rays of the setting sun sweep away beneath the horizon.

Example #4: The Raven (By Edgar Allen Poe)


Once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary;
rare and radiant maiden;
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain …
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams mai mortal ever dared to dream before.

Poe uses alliteration by repeating the /w/ sound to emphasize the weariness of the narrator, and then /r/ and /s/ sounds con the second and third lines respectively. Sopra the last two lines, the /d/ sound highlights the narrator’s hopelessness.

Example #5: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (By Samuel Taylor Coleridge)


Ah ! well a-day ! what evil looks
Had I from old and young !
Instead of the diretto incrociato, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

Sopra these lines, the albatross symbolizes a leader mistake, ora a burden of sin, just like the diretto incrociato acceso which Christ was crucified. Therefore, all people acceso the ship agreed to slay that bird.

Example #6: The Bluest Eyes (By Toni Morrison)

Personification, Consonance, and Consimile

She ran mongoloide the street, the knee socks making her legs like wild dandelion of stems that had somehow lost their heads. The weight of her remark stunned us.

This excerpt uses different devices that make language figurative. There is a good use of similare, “legs look like wild dandelion;” and personification, “lost their heads;” and use of consonance con “stunned us,” where the /s/ is a consonant sound.

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Example #7: The Week of Diana (By Maya Angelou)

Metaphor, Consonance, Personification

“The dark lantern of world sadness has cast its shadow upon the land.
We stumble into our misery on leaden feet.”

con just these two lines, Maya Angelou has used a metaphor of the dark lantern, consonance of the /s/ sounds, and personification of misery.

Example #8: The Moro Speaks of River (By Langston Hughes)

Consonance, Consimile

“I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

This prince of the Harlem Renaissance has beautifully used a different type of consonance with the /l/ sound and a similare of “my soul.”

Example #9: Musée des Beaux Arts (By W. H. Auden)

Personification, Consonance

That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow con a calcio d’angolo, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go acceso with their doggy W. H. Auden life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind acceso a tree.

W. H. Auden has used a personification of the “dreadful martyrdom,” and consonances of “some untidy spot,” with the /s/ sound, and “dogs go on with their doggy life,” with the /d/ and /g/ sounds.

Function of Figurative Language

The primary function of figurative language is to force readers to imagine what a writer wants to express. Figurative language is not meant to convey literal meanings, and often it compares one concept with another con order to make the first concept easier to understand. However, it links the two ideas ora concepts with the rete of influencing the audience to understand the link, even if it does not exist.

Poets and prose writers use this technique to bring out emotions and help their readers form images con their minds. Thus, figurative language is a useful way of conveying an pensata that readers cannot understand otherwise, paio to its complex and abstract nature. Sopra addition, it helps con analyzing a literary text.

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