What is a metaphor in English?

Metaphors are used a lot in English, both in speech and in written text.

They are words and phrases which do not have a literal meaning, but imply a resemblance to something or someone.

A metaphor can be regarded as representing something else. It can be used to remind us of what someone or something is like acting as a symbol or emblem in words.

It can imply a comparison between two things which are unrelated.

Where did the word metaphor come from?

The word metaphor came into use in the 15th century from Old French. It was derived from Latin and Greek meaning metaphora.

The literal definition is to transfer the sense of one word to a different one, and often in a strange way. Meta meaning over, and pherein meaning to “carry or bear”

What is a metaphor in English?
What is a metaphor in English?

What are some common metaphors?

Here are some common metaphors you may already be familiar with:

  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  • It was raining cats and dogs.
  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
  • A watched pot never boils.
What is a metaphor in English?
Mixed metaphors are confusing and often incorrect

What is a mixed metaphor?

A mixed metaphor is when the explanation doesn’t make sense. These should be avoid in your writing.

An example of a mixed metaphor is:

  • We could stand here and talk until the cows turn blue.
  • You could have knocked me over with a fender.
  • He was watching me like I was a hawk.
  • I’ll get it by hook or ladder.
  • He’s a wolf in cheap clothing.
  • They’re diabolically opposed.
  • He received a decease and desist order.
  • I wouldn’t eat that with a ten-foot pole.
  • Take a flying hike.
  • I shot the wind out of his saddle.

In summary a metaphor is a comparison between two things that states one thing is the other thing. A mixed metaphor often doesn’t make sense at all.

Find out how a simile is different to a metaphor here.

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What is a metaphor in English?
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