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Say, for example, you and a group of people were all sailing out in the ocean and something happens...then you say,

"I guess we are all in the same boat"

You are literally in the same boat with everyone else, and your current situation is the same as everyone else.

Now such a phrase can be applied literally and figuratively. I was wondering if there was a word that would mean both literally and figuratively. I know this is a tad bit of an oxymoron, but I was curious to see if there was such an "all encompassing" word for this.

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Some suggest "true in both/all senses." – user39720 Mar 23 '14 at 18:10
'If you'll pardon the pun, ...' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 23 '14 at 18:55
Isn't that (figuratively) ironic? – Elliott Frisch Mar 24 '14 at 1:49
I would think the figurative is usually derived from the literal, therefore literally would tend to imply figuratively. Is it feasible that people who were literally all in the same boat but would be subject to different meteorological conditions (aside from those above/below deck)? – Jack Ryan Mar 25 '14 at 16:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It is a syllepsis:

Syllepsis Syl*lep"sis, n. [L., fr. Gr. sy`llhpsis a taking together, from ?. See {syllable}, n.] 1. (Rhet.) A figure of speech by which a word is used in a literal and metaphorical sense at the same time. [1913 Webster]

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It's certainly not a syllepsis. While close in meaning it actually applies to a word that applies to two separate subjects the same sentence. I still can't find a solid answer to this question, however, and something tells me French is the answer – user78237 Jun 4 '14 at 5:04

A syllepsis is the noun. you're looking for the adverb sylleptically. meaning both, or two meanings. also I'm just throwing it out there that this is all from Archer. FTW

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Haha yup! I heard it on that one Archer episode and here I am – prawn Nov 14 '14 at 5:16
I'm collecting acronyms on EL&U.... what is FTW? Finish The W...; For The W....; What?! Don't tell me it's a typo. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 5:51
FTW usually means 'for the win' – prawn Nov 14 '14 at 6:20
@prawn I never realized! I thought it was WTF in reverse. It makes more sense to me now! – Ellie Kesselman Nov 14 '14 at 8:14

I asked the same question, also inspired by Archer. Richard on the SF&F SE pointed out that the phrase "in every sense [of the word]" fits.

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This has already been suggested. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 18 at 22:07
@EdwinAshworth - Not as an answer. – Wad Cheber Jul 18 at 22:09
user39720 probably thought the response too simple for a site for 'linguists, serious English language enthusiasts ...'. I feel that duplicating a response goes against the spirit of the site. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 18 at 22:19
@EdwinAshworth - The duplication was unintentional. Your comment called the previous suggestion to my attention. If I meant no harm, and if the duplication was coincidental, the spirit of the site has not been compromised. The person who called this phrase to my attention was Richard, a mod on the SF&F SE, and I gave him credit for it. – Wad Cheber Jul 18 at 22:41

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