Definition of figurative
2a : expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another with which it may be regarded as analogous : metaphorical figurative language in a figurative sense, civilization marches up and down — Lewis Mumfordb : characterized by figures of speech a figurative description
Examples of figurative in a Sentence
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.”
the figurative use of “allergy” to mean “a feeling of dislike”
Recent Examples of figurative from the Web
At the same time, the notion that the proverbial six days of war created a figurative Seventh Day—a kind of dark shadow under which the Arab-Israeli conflict has played out, inexorably and depressingly, these many years—is too simplistic a read.
Organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, the show includes pop surrealist, street, figurative, narrative and other trendy styles by Kehinde Wiley, Mark Ryden, Shepard Fairey and other artists the magazine has promoted.
While many understood each of Nugent's comments as figurative and not literal threats of assassination, his threats sparked widespread outrage -- but not from Trump, who was peddling conspiracy theories about Obama's birth certificate at the time.
Featured artists work in a variety of media, including abstract and figurative painting, collage and photography.
Six pitches later, the Mets had an insurance run, Gsellman had a career-high second R.B.I. in one game, and Collins had saved himself from another figurative kick in the ribs.
Eventually, elements of her original, figurative lexicon, such as the obscene, taunting tongues, returned to her work.
These feel more obviously figurative and less interesting, although one of them, made of airy beige tulle, exhibits an unexpected sense of movement.
As Hawaiian language is often more figurative in its translation than literal — the titles often help round out the themes and symbolism within each episode.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'figurative'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Words and phrases can have both literal and figurative meanings, and we all use words with both kinds of meanings every day of our lives. We can literally close the door to a room, or we can figuratively close the door to further negotiations—that is, refuse to take part in them. Figurative language includes figures of speech, such as similes ("she's been like a sister to me") and metaphors ("a storm of protest"). And sometimes it's hard to tell whether a phrase is literal or figurative: If I say I "picked up" a little Spanish in Mexico, is that literal or figurative? You've probably noticed that lots of the definitions in this book show both a literal meaning (often something physical) and a figurative meaning (often nonphysical).
First Known Use of figurative
FIGURATIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of figurative for English Language Learners
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
FIGURATIVE Defined for Kids
Definition of figurative for Students
: expressing one thing in terms normally used for another The word “foot” is figurative in “the foot of the mountain.”
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up figurative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).