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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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 ...
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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 ...
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"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 ...
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Figurative usage of "Talk", for objects

Is it common to use the verb talk figuratively for objects? for example, can I say: I went straight to the part of the book that talked about monkeys. Or it's not common, and better to say to the ...
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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 ...
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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. ...
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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.
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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. ...
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"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. ...
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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 ...
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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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“[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?
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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 ...
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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’...
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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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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.
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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'...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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."
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6 answers
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"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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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9 votes
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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 ...
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"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 ...
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"Go Back to square one" VS "Go back to the drawing board"

I am going to say: In spite of all my efforts, I couldn't pass the final exam and I have to attend all these sessions from the beginning again and start everything from the outset! The same old ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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What does the phrase "The horse has left the barn" mean?

What does the phrase "The horse has left the barn" mean? I'm asking this question because I was watching the live testimony of Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire before a ...
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Why are the poor duck and the goose targetted in a derogatory sense In English?

He is a lame duck Becoming a doctor is a wild goose chase. you bloody goose He was out for a duck or golden duck. These are some of the terms associated with duck and geese ...
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Difference between Metonymy and Synecdoche

"One thousand hands made the pyramids of Egypt." How is the word 'hands' used in the sentence? Is it metonymy or synecdoche?
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What does "boys rule, girls drool" mean?

What does "Boys rule, girls drool," mean? I googled it but did not get a straightforward answer. It is a dialogue of Dumb And Dumber (2014) film.
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Meaning of "Reverse my Polarity"

In Talking Tom and Friends, Season 1 Episode 5, "Magnetic Ben", when Ben became a magnet and got stuck to the garage door, he said to Angela: "I need you to reverse my polarity!" Immediately, Angela ...
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Persistent much? (What does it mean)

Someone had written “Persistent much, huh? Well, then let’s start with my family background.” What does “Persistent much” mean? I looked it up, but I couldn’t find it’s meaning.........
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1 vote
1 answer
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Can "watermelon" and "brain" be used to refer to one's head metaphorically?

There's a joke, written in my native language, where a blind man in a grocery store starts tapping (or patting) on a child's head, asking about the price of this watermelon, thinking it is an actual ...
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2 votes
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Did Percy use an omission after "fed"?

The poem is called Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the ...
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