: 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
: 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