adjective fig·u·ra·tive \ˈfi-g(y)ə-rə-tiv\

of words, language, etc. : used with a meaning that is different from the basic meaning and that expresses an idea in an interesting way by using language that usually describes something else : not literal

: showing people and things in a way that resembles how they really look : not abstract

Full Definition of FIGURATIVE

a :  representing by a figure or resemblance :  emblematic
b :  of or relating to representation of form or figure in art <figurative sculpture>
a :  expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another with which it may be regarded as analogous :  metaphorical <figurative language>
b :  characterized by figures of speech <a figurative description>
fig·u·ra·tive·ly adverb
fig·u·ra·tive·ness noun

Examples of FIGURATIVE

  1. The phrase know your ropes means literally to know a lot about ropes, while its figurative meaning is to know a lot about how to do something.
  2. <the figurative use of allergy to mean a feeling of dislike>

First Known Use of FIGURATIVE

14th century

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile
FIGURATIVE Defined for Kids


adjective fig·u·ra·tive \ˈfi-gyə-rə-tiv\

Definition of FIGURATIVE for Kids

:  expressing one thing in terms normally used for another <The word “foot” is figurative in “the foot of the mountain.”>
fig·u·ra·tive·ly adverb


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