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Questions tagged [figurative-language]

For questions about language where the words have meaning other than their literal sense. For example, metaphor or simile.

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". . .this lot will strip the table bare…" What is this type of phrase called in English?

(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part II Cambridge Choir, chapter 25) At lunch. Martin and William are choristers visiting Martin's parents Martin saves him by dropping the second two ...
philphil's user avatar
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-2 votes
1 answer
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"But Aberfan has scooped out the core of him, stretched it thin and catapulted it into the wild blue yonder." [closed]

(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part I, Aberfan, chapter 11) And then, at the dinner dance, with that kiss, he dared to believe they had a future. But Aberfan has scooped out the core ...
philphil's user avatar
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1 answer
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What does "tripped over her head" mean?

"The fireflies had arrived, making everyone she passed appear a little enchanted as their laughter and flirtations tripped over her head." Finale Caraval Series Book 3 By Stephanie Garber · ...
Gabriela Nascimento's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
257 views

What's the actual meaning of "sits down to a banquet of consequences" in this sentence?

Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences. — Robert Louis Stevenson I don't find any relevant definition for the phrasal verb "sits down". And what's the thought ...
Sam's user avatar
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2 answers
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Figurative usage of Kabuki?

In the podcast BBC newshour, episode 08 Aug 2023, they talk about the recent coup in Niger, starting at around 30:00. The context is that the apparently strong reactions by Ecowas, such as the ...
Yosh's user avatar
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1 answer
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figurative usage of "within A of B"

According to the following sentence, was John in the city? John was within a kilometer of the city. Now let us look at a figurative usage of "within ... of": John is within an inch of his ...
Apollyon's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
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How to convey that someone is struggling to solve a problem

"He needs help in climbing every step of the ladder." Is this a proper sentence? The intent is to convey someone's ability to solve a Mathematical/Software Problem. So if one is assisted at ...
nicku's user avatar
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When in English people say that things have needs, is it literal?

In Spanish, things cannot have needs. Only living creatures have needs. In English, instead, it’s very common for things to have needs, as in “This floor needs to be washed” to mean “This floor should ...
user354948's user avatar
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1 answer
90 views

Does "stoop" have a figurative meaning?

But you didn't have to cut me off Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing And I don't even need your love But you treat me like a stranger, and that feels so rough No, you didn't have ...
Real Dreams's user avatar
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What does this woman want to say? [closed]

Would you kindly help me to understand what does the woman said here in these few seconds " 25:3 to 25:14" I really couldn't understand it https://fb.watch/fh9a2egKL2/
Aneera's user avatar
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What figure of speech or idiom is involved here?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2WxaeIJcqY So I found this line: "You're a sewer troll that Stephen King wrote between his lines" in a rap music and I was trying to understand how it ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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3 answers
2k views

What did Martin Luther King mean by "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends"?

I was reading a pamphlet titled 'The Wise saying' then saw this saying: "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." By Martin Luther King ...
Nyavoken Chris's user avatar
0 votes
4 answers
115 views

"shoals of immigrants" Is this a correct usage of a metaphor?

Although the onset of the problems of climate change may seem minuscule and peculiar to some poor regions in the world, the long-term repercussions of such a trend will be evident in a not-too-distant ...
a.toraby's user avatar
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What does ‘seething labyrinth’ mean in this sentence from an H.P. Lovecraft novel?

I would like ask for the meaning of phrase ‘seething labyrinth’ in sentence. ...in which he discerns a seething labyrinth housed in the range’s uppermost slopes... It is from H.P. Lovecraft's novel ...
Martin's user avatar
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1 answer
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The figurative meaning of the word exotic [closed]

The words exotic, as it seems, is somehow related to the word exit; This justifies it's literal meaning which could be found everywhere. What I'm looking for is the figurative meaning of the word. ...
k1.M's user avatar
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1 answer
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fly through the air

If we say a pole vaulter "flies through the air," are we using the phrase literally or figuratively? The pole vaulter flew through the air.
Apollyon's user avatar
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"broom her fast" meaning

What does "broom her" mean? Ive encountered to this quite peculiar term while watching spider man series. This expression takes place in the dialogue between norman osborn and his son harry. ...
Koko moko's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
57 views

"do my costumes rule?" meaning

Could you check the following dialogue from the sitcom 'How I Met Your Mother' (season 1, episode 6 Slutty Pumpkin)? Guess what came in the mail today? Our costumes? Do they rule? Yeah, they rule. ...
Koko moko's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
87 views

Use of it's when using personification

McDonald's is trying to convince us that it's not a psychopath for putting poison in their drinks to save money. Can you use it even when using personification like in the sentence above? What's the ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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What is the figure of speech here?

Dictionary.com defines celluloid as of or involving motion pictures The boots have been immortalised on celluloid in her latest film, Strictly Sinatra, directed by Peter Capaldi. [Lexico] I was ...
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Is ‘I almost died’ figurative?

I think ‘I was near to death’ semantically correct, not ‘I almost died’, so I wonder ‘I almost died’ is literal or figurative. hyperbole (hahy-PUR-buh-lee): Extreme exaggeration used for emphasis or ...
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1 answer
344 views

“[NOUN] in veins” eg. “MUSICIAN in veins” meaning

Phrase: "Musician in veins" Is it correct? Can it be misinterpreted? Is it easily understandable for english speaking person? How do YOU understand it?
Developer's user avatar
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0 answers
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Can "carve into" be used figuratively?

The expression carve (something) into (something) means, according to Free dictionary: to create a carved object by sculpturing raw material OR to use a knife or other tool to carve a block of some ...
fev's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
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What does "It's all in where you are standing" mean?

I was reading the novel A Song of Ice and Fire and this phrase came up twice and I don't get what it means at all. “Winterfell’s not in the south,” Jon objected. “Yes it is. Everything below the Wall’...
Syed Arham Ali's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
222 views

what does " We have to flip the leadership playbook." mean?

We have to flip the leadership playbook. ( From TED) What does this mean? To learn from the metaphorical playbook or to upend it?
HypnoticBuggyWraithVirileBevy's user avatar
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1 answer
116 views

Does 'sings a song of significance' literally mean 'sing'?

Does ' sing a song" here mean literally 'sing"? Whatever form it takes, there is in happiness the kind of constant which enjoyment cannot bring us: happiness does not lie in filling time ...
user70732's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
3k views

Commentator on Steph Curry's three-pointer - "... like the fries are at the bottom". What does that mean here?

Okay, so there was a recent basketball game between the Golden State Warriors (GSW) and the Los Angeles Clippers, where GSW — the underdog — came back from a 22-point deficit to beat the Clippers by ...
AIQ's user avatar
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1 answer
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Can I say the action noun in this usage

I want to say 'the city is destroyed into ashes' more poetically and uniquely. Can I say 'the city is with destruction into ashes'? More specifically, there's no city because of destruction and just ...
gggo's user avatar
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1 answer
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what "bend the hostile environment of Mars for human habitation" means?

I found out this phrase in the TEDx talk "Let's not use Mars as a backup planet". As I was searching in the dictionaries, I understood the basic meaning of the verb which is "make ...
T. Wildwolf's user avatar
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0 answers
692 views

May good health envelop you, spurring a quick recovery

Is there anything wrong with the following sentence? Is the metaphor "envelop you" used correctly? May good health envelop you, spurring a quick recovery. I'd appreciate your help.
Apollyon's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is "slip of an object" a personification?

On an ordinary day, you might miss this slip of a shop wedged between a veterinary clinic and a grocery store in Paris' popular Bastille. NPR: The Last Razor Repairman In Paris a young and slender ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
546 views

What is the common meaning of the word smell when used as a metaphor or in idioms?

I have come across expressions like: I can smell a rat. It smells fishy They could smell his fear. I understand what these mean. However, I would like to know if there is a common meaning behind ...
user263596's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
110 views

To rewind the tape to where or when?

When we say let's rewind the tape to in a figurative sense, do we use to when ... or to where ...? E.g.: Let's rewind the tape to when we left. Or: Let's rewind the tape to where we left. Are both ...
tonix's user avatar
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Does "it argues ill" mean the same as “augurs ill”?

Does "commend" mean "praise"? Does "it argues ill" mean the same as "augurs ill" or not? Dr. (afterwards Professor) Balfour Stewart, in a communication to ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
198 views

Figurative Meaning of "Migrate"

It wasn't clear whether Jett had been the mastermind behind this accounting glitch or if more senior management had been aware of the false profits, but these two facts were clear: (1) Kidder's ...
luxury20041985's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

unusual usage of bellowing

Explosions shook the ground, artillery shells, mortars and bombs continuously rained down, fires blazed, and smoke bellowed high into the sky. Doesn't bellowing mean "make a loud sound"? If that'...
Sayaman's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
2k views

Meaning of the phrase 'pitching black ropes'

I was reading 'Shutter Island' by Dennis Lehane and I stumbled at this phrase: Later, he got sick, repeatedly and violently, pitching black ropes of it over the side of his father's boat and into ...
Shershon A J's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
22 views

Metonymy of curtain

Immediately, the heavy velvet folds hid the stage from the audience, Farrar was up on her feet, and she and Caruso were having it out between them, whilst I tried. I am wondering if we can ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
13k views

Is my nationality Dutch or Netherlands?

I'm from the Netherlands. English has taught me to say "I'm Dutch". But through many travels I've noticed that non-native English speakers confuse this with "Deutsch", which is ...
Tim's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
390 views

Proper use of "lay" and "lie" in figurative present tense

I know there are multiple threads regarding proper use of "lay" and "lie", but I'm hoping to get some additional insight to distinguish their usage when used in figurative form. Which of the following ...
moonlight's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
2k views

The figure of speech 'It's your party ' meaning

What does 'It's your party' mean as a figure of speech? After reading the book 'Harry Potter and the Deathly hallows', one doubt remained with me. In the chapter King's cross, there is this dialogue ...
Reader Manifold's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
83 views

Please interpret and analyze sentences

i have a one simple question. This is the lyric from the movie 'tangled'. "All those years outside looking in" I'd like to know more about this phrase. "outside looking in" Does that mean you're ...
dlrmato's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "speak the language of"

I have come across the expression “speak the language of” a lot on news. But I am not sure about its exact meaning. I find one entry in OED which seems to be relevant. Language: b. The ...
luxury20041985's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
371 views

What is to trip down the aisle?

Check the box office for great seats! The smash hit musical based on the songs of ABBA MAMMA MIA! A mother. A daughter. 3 possible dads. And a trip down ...
Jane Miller's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
134 views

When is "may" a fact?

Why is "may" found in sentences that express fact? For example: "They may be friends, but that doesn't meant that they don't fight." "I may be 63, but I can still dance out the evening."
user103775's user avatar
32 votes
6 answers
9k views

"When you Frankenstein a team together..." - Is "Frankenstein" a new verb?

I did not know that "Frankenstein" can be used as a verb. Max Kellerman, a highly reputed sports analyst working for ESPN, says "When you Frankenstein a team together, usually it doesn't work ...
AIQ's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
37 views

How can I interpret "soundtrack" here?

Architecture and design guru William T. Georgis designed his dramatic pool for his private West Coast getaway. A raised planter ingeniously created planting space at the foot of a large retaining ...
luxury20041985's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
67 views

Understanding - "Cantaloupe-colored sunrises ... all kinds of things that didn't include black plastic mountains of trash and the smell of dog urine."

I am helping a friend who is preparing for their GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). In the "reading comprehension" section, there is a passage and then there are some questions. While I can easily ...
AIQ's user avatar
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8 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is "of blue" in order to mean "blue" grammatical?

Is "of blue" in order to mean "blue" grammatical? I am wondering if saying "blue sky" means the same thing as "sky of blue"? Is it grammatical? How idiomatic it is? I've seen some passage use similar ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
18k views

"March to the beat of one's own drum" Positive or Negative

In the view of the dictionary definition, the idiom "March to the beat of one's own drum, is more or less something negative which has a connotation of being inattentive, inconsiderate or reckless and ...
A-friend's user avatar
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