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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about figuratively

Share figuratively

Statistics for figuratively

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for figuratively

The first known use of figuratively was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

More from Merriam-Webster on figuratively

Spanish Central: Translation of figuratively

Nglish: Translation of figuratively for Spanish Speakers

Comments on figuratively

What made you want to look up figuratively? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!