figuratively

adverb fig·u·ra·tive·ly \ ˈfi-g(y)ə-rə-tiv-lē \

Definition of figuratively

: in a figurative way: such as
a : with a meaning that is metaphorical rather than literal
  • Speaking of panic, I recently ran into (figuratively, not literally) a friend who was ranting about giant "bees" digging holes in his lawn.
  • —Ron Kujawski
  • Poor small-town America. During the last gasps of this fevered election, pollsters, zealous campaign foot soldiers and reporters are kicking down its doors, figuratively speaking …
  • —Doug Colligan
b : in a way intended to represent the form or figure of something or someone having objective reality : in a way that is not purely abstract
  • Franz Kline, who had always painted figuratively, made his breakthrough in 1949 when he looked at one of his sketches in a Bell-Opticon magnifier, and saw the rough, thrusting horizontals and verticals that became the basis of his new abstract style.
  • —Calvin Tomkins

First Known Use of figuratively

14th century

in the meaning defined above

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