Definition of metaphor
1 : a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money); broadly : figurative language — compare simile
2 : an object, activity, or idea treated as a metaphor : symbol 2
metaphoricallyplay \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
Examples of metaphor in a Sentence
You see, menudo is our chicken soup for the body and soul, our metaphor for bread-and-butter issues. —Joe Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, 20 May 2003
The hapless Humpty Dumpty often crops up as a metaphor for the second law of thermodynamics. —Charles Day, Physics Today, December 2002
Ben Strong, senior, football player, leader of the prayer group, the boy whose very name is a metaphor, has been besieged by the media for interviews. —Jayne Anne Phillips, Harper's, November 1998
The number of songs containing ambiguous metaphors and intriguing but obscure symbolism could be extended indefinitely. Still, … there are hollers, work songs, field songs, and blues whose meaning is really not subject to a great deal of interpretation. —Lawrence W. Levine, “The Concept of the New Negro,” 1971, in The Unpredictable Past, 1993
“He was drowning in paperwork” is a metaphor in which having to deal with a lot of paperwork is being compared to drowning in an ocean of water.
Her poems include many imaginative metaphors.
a poet admired for her use of metaphor
Recent Examples of metaphor from the Web
But this conceit has an ulterior motive: to trick the viewer into believing that death is sleep, no metaphor about it.
Trump said, in what appeared to be a joke but could easily have been a metaphor.
This deal was supposed to be a slam dunk, to shamelessly use a metaphor from a different sport.
While Gov. Bill Walker and a few legislators suggested earlier this week that an oil-tax deal was imminent, the 500 miles separating lawmakers in Wednesday's conference committee seemed an apt metaphor for the distance between them on policy.
Her work is like a story woven with symbols and metaphors.
Is this a metaphor for the diminished authority of the American white male amid demographic shifts?
The story of the Donner Party, which looms so large in America’s folklore, is not only a metaphor for Manifest Destiny, but also a microcosm of the U.S.
Carey shared photos of herself floating carefree through the Dead Sea (a metaphor for many things in 2017), looking as flawless as ever.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'metaphor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
simile vs. metaphor
Many people have trouble distinguishing between simile and metaphor. A glance at their Latin and Greek roots offers a simple way of telling these two closely-related figures of speech apart. Simile comes from the Latin word similis (meaning “similar, like”), which seems fitting, since the comparison indicated by a simile will typically contain the words as or like. Metaphor, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word metapherein (“to transfer”), which is also fitting, since a metaphor is used in place of something. “My love is like a red, red rose” is a simile, and “love is a rose” is a metaphor.
METAPHOR Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of metaphor for English Language Learners
: a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar
: an object, activity, or idea that is used as a symbol of something else
METAPHOR Defined for Kids
Definition of metaphor for Students
: a figure of speech comparing two unlike things without using like or as “Their cheeks were roses” is a metaphor while “their cheeks were like roses” is a simile.
Learn More about metaphor
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up metaphor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).