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A study on various figures of speech

1379 words (6 pages) Essay in English Literature

5/12/16 English Literature Reference this

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METAPHOR: A metaphor is a figure of speech that says that one thing is another different thing. This allows us to use fewer words and forces the reader or listener to find the similarities.

This is a use of word or phrase denoting one kind of idea or object in place of another word or phrase for the purpose of suggesting a likeness between the two.

Metaphor example

Metaphorical sense

Original sense

I’m not an angel, but I wouldn’t behave like that.

exemplary person

a spiritual being believed to be a messenger of God.

America is a melting pot.

place where different peoples, styles and cultures are mixed together

a container in which metals or other materials are melted and mixed

John is a real pig when he eats.

greedy person

a four-legged animal kept for meat (pork)

My father is a rock.

very strong or reliable person

a hard, mineral material made of stone

How could she marry a snake like that!


a long, limbless reptile (eg: cobra, python, viper)

The private detective dug up enough evidence to convince the police to act.


Dogs like to bury bones and dig them up later.

SIMILE: A simile is a figure of speech that says that one thing is like another different thing. We can use similes to make descriptions more emphatic or vivid.

We often use the words as…as and like with similes.


as blind as a bat completely blind

as cold as ice very cold

as flat as a pancake completely flat

as gentle as a lamb very gentle

as light as a feather very light

as old as the hills very old

as sharp as a knife very sharp

as strong as a bull very strong

as white as snow pure white

as wise as an owl very wise

like a rose beautiful

like a volcano explosive

like garbage disgusting

like an animal inhuman

like gold dust precious

His skin was as cold as ice.

It felt as hard as rock.

She looked as gentle as a lamb.

He eats like a pig.

He smokes like a chimney.

They fought like cats and dogs.

EUPHEMISM: Substitution of a delicate term or phrase for one that has otherwise unpleasant association.


He passed away yesterday(meaning)He died yesterday.

Portly or husky (meaning) fat.

Pregnancy termination (meaning) abortion.

Differently abled (meaning)disabled or handicapped.

Partially proficient (meaning) unqualified, failed, or unsatisfactory (as on proficiency tests).

SYNECDOCHE: A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general (as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), or the material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).


Soil for boat or vice versa.

All hands on deck.

white-collar criminals

Give us this day our daily bread.

He knew the law was on the way.

The notorious cutthroat claimed another victim.

OXYMORON: A figure of speech that deliberately uses two contradictory ideas. This contradiction creates a paradoxical image in the reader or listener’s mind that generates a new concept or meaning for the whole.


a living death

sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind

a deafening silence


The Sounds of Silence (song title)

make haste slowly

he was conspicuous by his absence

METONYMY: A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated (such as “crown” for “royalty”). Metonymy is also the rhetorical strategy of describing something indirectly by referring to things around it, such as describing someone’s clothing to characterize the individual.


“Laurels” when it stands for “glory”.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” (i.e. writing is more powerful than warfare)

The White House supports the bill (using The White House instead of the President. The President is not like The White House, but there is contiguity between them, in that the White House is where the President lives and works).”

He, The White House supports the bill (using The White House instead of the President. The President is not like The White House, but there is contiguity between them, in that the White House is where the President lives and works).”

He writes a fine hand” meaning “good writing”.elf!

IRONY: The use of words that say the opposite of words to say what you really mean.


You win the lotto and then you die of a heart attack.

Asking for your money back when you get something for free.

You wake up and you are now late for work and then there is a traffic jam.

A non smoking sign in your company when you take a smoke break.

Thousands of spoons, I only need a knife.

You are walking down the street and you find a penny but you do not pick it up, when you try to take the bus you are missing a penny and you have to walk.

You work at a fire extinguisher factory, when you get home your house is on fire and you don’t have one.

Taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich.

PERSONIFICATION: Representation of inanimate objects or abstract ideas a living beings as in sentences.


Night enfolded the town in its ebon wings.

The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky.

The run down house appeared depressed.

The first rays of morning tiptoed through the meadow.

She did not realize that opportunity was knocking at her door.

He did not realize that his last chance was walking out the door.

The bees played hide and seek with the flowers as they buzzed from one to another.

The wind howled its mighty objection.

The snow swaddled the earth like a mother would her infant child.

The river swallowed the earth as the water continued to rise higher and higher.

Time flew and before we knew it, it was time for me to go home.

The ocean waves lashed out at the boat and the storm continued to brew.

My computer throws a fit every time I try to use it.

The thunder grumbled like an old man.

The flowers waltzed in the gentle breeze.

Her life passed her by.

The sun glared down at me from the sky.

Define biography

Define autobiography

BIOGRAPHY: This is defined as the written account of an individual life written by another. A biography is more than a list of impersonal facts (education, work, relationships, and death), it also portrays the subject’s experience of those events. A biography presents the subject’s story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experiences, and may include an analysis of the subject’s personality.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: This is an account of someone’s life written by that person.

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