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8.2: Figurative Language

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    The English Language is Weird.\(^{201}\)

    This chapter exists for those students and teachers who wish to dig a little deeper into the English language because it’s a weird language. In our weird language, we have words and phrases that don’t always follow their normal meaning… yeah, imagine that! So, not only do we have slang words and phrases evolving at a wild rate – while also getting created by people weekly – this category is full of words and phrases that can change the meaning of a sentence without trying very hard.

    There are few ways to use figurative language, including metaphors, similes, personification, and hyperbole. There is a lot to the category of figurative language; this chapter might not cover ALL of them, but here’s a start:

    Double Entendres

    When a sentence means something literally while also meaning something perverted at the same time.

    • Mateo grabbed his ball before hitting it over the net.


    When a person wants to discuss a taboo topic but uses a socially known code to talk about it. We seem to have a lot of euphemisms when it comes to sex and our digestive systems.

    • Malik urgently scooted to the bathroom; he had a call on line two.
    • Joe and Tae got nasty in the backseat of the Jeep.


    A phrase with contradicting terms side by side.

    • Small elephant
    • Jumbo shrimp


    These are “overused”\(^{202}\) phrases. Sometimes, they are okay to use; sometimes, they annoy your readers.

    • Isabella’s personality is wild; she’s like a chicken with its head chopped off.
    • I found out my teacher is an ungrader; it is the cherry on top of my day!


    These are incredible exaggerations.

    • Ria’s hair was so tall it reached the sky.
    • Derek’s wheelchair was faster than a car.


    This occurs when we give humanistic characteristics to non-humans.

    • The grocery cart was acting like a jerk.
    • At the top of my cane is a bump; it’s like a pimple.

    Metaphors & Similes

    These are used in comparisons.

    • Malik is as weird as Ria is. Ria is like an antenna for weirdness.


    The best explanation of this term might be to just say: “Corny jokes that older people tell.”

    • Malik shook the lettuce in my face and said, “Romaine calm!”


    When the same consonants keep popping up in a sentence or poem.

    • Sally sells seashells by the seashore.


    This term is used when a word sounds like the sound it makes.

    • “Pop” went the champagne; it was time to celebrate the Pride parade!


    These are common phrases, that unlike clichés, are sometimes considered words of wisdom. Some claim they are big ideas condensed down into tiny bits.

    • a little bird told me / a drop in the bucket / a bitter pill / a man of few words

    \(^{201}\)This chapter is brought to you by Sybil Priebe.

    \(^{202}\)According to whom, I don’t know.

    This page titled 8.2: Figurative Language is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.