metaphor


metaphor
metaphorical /met'euh fawr"i keuhl, -for"-/, metaphoric, adj.metaphorically, adv.metaphoricalness, n.
/met"euh fawr', -feuhr/, n.
1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in "A mighty fortress is our God." Cf. mixed metaphor, simile (def. 1).
2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.
[1525-35; < L metaphora < Gk metaphorá a transfer, akin to metaphérein to transfer. See META-, -PHORE]

* * *

Figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or action is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in "the ship plows the seas" or "a volley of oaths").

A metaphor is an implied comparison (as in "a marble brow"), in contrast to the explicit comparison of the simile ("a brow white as marble"). Metaphor is common at all levels of language and is fundamental in poetry, in which its varied functions range from merely noting a likeness to serving as a central concept and controlling image.

* * *

      figure of speech that implies comparison between two unlike entities, as distinguished from simile, an explicit comparison signalled by the words “like” or “as.”

      The distinction is not simple. The metaphor makes a qualitative leap from a reasonable, perhaps prosaic comparison, to an identification or fusion of two objects, to make one new entity partaking of the characteristics of both. Many critics regard the making of metaphors as a system of thought antedating or bypassing logic.

      Metaphor is the fundamental language of poetry, although it is common on all levels and in all kinds of language. Many words were originally vivid images, although they exist now as dead metaphors whose original aptness has been lost—for example, “daisy” (day's eye). Other words, such as “nightfall,” are dormant images. In addition to single words, everyday language abounds in phrases and expressions that once were metaphors. “Time flies” is an ancient metaphorical expression. When a poet says “The Bird of Time has but a little way / To flutter—and the Bird is on the Wing” (The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam), he is constructing a new metaphor on the foundations of an older, stock metaphor. When Tennessee Williams entitles his play Sweet Bird of Youth, he, too, is referring to that Bird of Time that flies. Thus, metaphorical language develops continuously in complexity just as ordinary language does.

      In poetry a metaphor may perform varied functions from the mere noting of a likeness to the evocation of a swarm of associations; it may exist as a minor beauty or it may be the central concept and controlling image of the poem. The familiar metaphor “Iron Horse,” for train, for example, becomes the elaborate central concept of one of Emily Dickinson's poems, which begins

I like to see it lap the Miles,
And lick the Valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at Tanks;
And then prodigious step . . .

      A mixed metaphor is the linking of two or more disparate elements, which often results in an unintentionally comic effect produced by the writer's insensitivity to the literal meaning of words or by the falseness of the comparison. A mixed metaphor may also be used with great effectiveness, however, as in Hamlet's (Hamlet)

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles . . .

      in which “sea” should be replaced by “host” for the strictly correct completion of the metaphor.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:
(without the signs of comparison), (expressed in a word)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • metaphor — met a*phor (m[e^]t [.a]*f[^o]r or m[e^]t [.a]*f[ e]r), n. [F. m[ e]taphore, L. metaphora, fr. Gr. metafora , fr. metafe rein to carry over, transfer; meta beyond, over + fe rein to bring, bear.] (Rhet.) The transference of the relation between… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • metaphor — [met′ə fôr΄] n. [Fr métaphore < L metaphora < Gr < metapherein, to carry over < meta, over (see META ) + pherein, to BEAR1] a figure of speech containing an implied comparison, in which a word or phrase ordinarily and primarily used… …   English World dictionary

  • metaphor — index example Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • metaphor — (n.) late 15c., from M.Fr. metaphore (O.Fr. metafore, 13c.), and directly from L. metaphora, from Gk. metaphora a transfer, especially of the sense of one word to a different word, lit. a carrying over, from metapherein transfer, carry over;… …   Etymology dictionary

  • metaphor — simile, *analogy …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • metaphor — [n] figure of speech, implied comparison allegory, analogy, emblem, hope, image, metonymy, personification, similitude, symbol, trope; concept 275 Ant. plain speech …   New thesaurus

  • metaphor — ► NOUN 1) a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable (e.g. food for thought). 2) a thing symbolic of something else. ORIGIN from Greek, from metapherein to transfer …   English terms dictionary

  • Metaphor — This article is about the figure of speech. For other uses, see Metaphor (disambiguation). A political cartoon from an 1894 Puck magazine by illustrator S.D. Ehrhart, shows a farm woman labeled Democratic Party sheltering from a tornado of… …   Wikipedia

  • metaphor — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ appropriate, apt, good, perfect ▪ powerful, striking ▪ useful ▪ central …   Collocations dictionary

  • Metaphor — (Roget s Thesaurus) < N PARAG:Metaphor >N GRP: N 1 Sgm: N 1 figure of speech figure of speech Sgm: N 1 facon de parler facon de parler =>(French) way of speaking colloquialism GRP: N 2 Sgm: N 2 phrase phrase &c. 566 Sgm: N 2 …   English dictionary for students


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.