dead metaphor


: a word or phrase (such as time is running out) that has lost its metaphoric force through common usage

Examples of dead metaphor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Many of our emotion terms are references to states of the body—we’re downcast, bent out of shape, head over heels, shaken up, down in the mouth—which have slowly rigidified into dead metaphor. Nikhil Krishnan, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 This shift reminds us that dead metaphors aren’t always terminally dead. Rob Nixon, Smithsonian, 23 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dead metaphor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dead metaphor was in 1922

Dictionary Entries Near dead metaphor

Cite this Entry

“Dead metaphor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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