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
Second, in Early Christian art Jesus had become associated with the sun, its setting and rising each day a metaphor for his death and resurrection.
This gold rush metaphor comes up again and again in conversations here.
Chicago deliberately transforms the art of vaudeville into a metaphor for riotous 1920s Chicago.
The episode serves as a cruel metaphor for the ailing party.
Both real and a metaphor, the slide sandal accommodates a life of impulsiveness — of easy, and perhaps frivolous, commitment.
The river itself was a standard-issue metaphor of time’s ungraspable flux and constancy.
Granik finds another striking natural metaphor in beekeeping, which Tom takes up as a hobby.
The album's lyricism orients around ideas of religious tradition and spirituality and is altogether fueled by metaphor.
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.
What is metaphor?
"You're a peach!" We've all heard the expression, and it's a good example of what we call metaphor. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or action is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them: the person being addressed in "you're a peach" is being equated with a peach, with the suggestion being that the person is pleasing or delightful in the way that a peach is pleasing and delightful. A metaphor is an implied comparison, as in "the silk of the singer's voice," in contrast to the explicit comparison of the simile, which uses like or as, as in "a voice smooth like silk."
When we use metaphor, we make a leap beyond rational, ho-hum comparison to an identification or fusion of two objects, resulting in a new entity that has characteristics of both: the voice isn't like silk; it is silk. Many critics regard the making of metaphors as a system of thought antedating or bypassing logic. Metaphor is the fundamental language of poetry, although it is common on all levels and in all kinds of language.
Lots of common words we use every day were originally vivid images, although they exist now as dead metaphors whose original aptness has been lost. The word daisy, for example, comes from an Old English word meaning "day's eye." The ray-like appearance of the daisy, which opens and closes with the sun, is reminiscent of an eye that opens in the morning and closes at night. The expression time flies is also metaphorical, with time being identified with a bird.
In poetry a metaphor may perform varied functions, from noting simple similarity between things to evoking a broad set of associations; it may exist as a minor element, or it may be the central concept and controlling image of the poem. The metaphor of an iron horse for a train, for example, is the elaborate central concept of one of Emily Dickinson's poems—though neither iron horse nor train appears in the poem, the first and final stanzas of which are:
I like to see it lap the Miles—
And lick the Valleys up—
And stop to feed itself at Tanks—
And then—prodigious step
And neigh like Boanerges—
Then—prompter than a Star
Stop—docile and omnipotent
At it's own stable door—
A mixed metaphor is the linking of two or more elements that don't go together logically. It happens when the writer or speaker isn't being sensitive to the literal meaning of the words or to the falseness of the comparison being used. A mixed metaphor is often two metaphors sloppily mashed together as in, "the ball is in the court of public opinion," which joins "the ball is in your court" to "the court of public opinion."
A mixed metaphor may also be used with great effectiveness, however, as in Hamlet's speech:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
For strictly correct completion of the metaphor, sea should be replaced by a word like host. By using "sea of troubles," however, Shakespeare evokes the overwhelming nature of Hamlet's troubles.
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
- “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).