A figure of speech is figurative language in the form of a single word or phrase.

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What is 'decreased activity' an example of?

People use decreased activity (for example) where decrease in activity would be more literally correct. For example, reasons for my decreased activity usually refers to reasons for a decrease, not to ...
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What is the term for a common expression that is inaccurate or misleading?

What is the term for a common expression or colloquialism that is inaccurate or misleading, such as the use of "mental math" to mean "mental calculation" or "mental arithmetic"?
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Name for phrase of words in increasing significance

I'm looking at the phrase "THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY". The thing I'm trying to think of is the joke format where you list a bunch of things and then change the last word for humorous effect. I ...
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Is unknown certainty oxymoronic?

If someone started a story thus, In a time lost, in a certain yet unknown place, is the Castle of Umberdeen ... How could an entity be a certainty and yet unknown? It does not make sense. But ...
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When can a metaphor become a double entendre

I've been engaged in debate for some days now, about a discussion in a panel of a Captain America comic book. In the comic book, Bucky, his sidekick, says that "you have been running a mile a minute ...
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What's the origin of the figure of speech “call the shots”?

I'm well aware that when someone says "he's the one who calls the shots" it means that that person is the one in charge, the one who takes all the relevant decisions. But what's the origin of this ...
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331 views

Polish your mug idiom

Recently I've heard couple of interesting idioms one of which was "Make yourself scarce or I'll polish your mug". So, I was wondering is it really used like that? I've heard of "Make yourself scarce" ...
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494 views

Proverb/Idiom for Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other? [duplicate]

I am looking for a figure of speech which means something vaguely like this: "Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other" Is there a proverb or phrase for this because I am not ...
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What is a synonym for “jack of all trades, master of none”?

What is a synonym of jack of all trades, master of none? I want to differentiate it from a generalist (might have deep knowledge about everything)? On the same note, is there a better way to say ...
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Litotes: Always for Emphasis? Used for Non-committal Hedging? Any Authoritative Source?

My question is about litotes. I’m wondering if it is always for emphasis, or whether it can be a type of non-committal statement or hedging. And, is there an authoritative source that can be cited ...
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Change is the only constant – antithesis or oxymoron?

Change is the only constant – Isaac Asimov Can the above quote be called an example of antithesis or that of oxymoron, or neither of these? I am confused because both antithesis and oxymoron have ...
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Why is “desperacy” not an English word?

I know one says an act of desperation, but I've heard desperacy much more than I've ever heard desperation, it's like I've almost never heard desperation. Why exactly was desperation preferred over ...
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Why PBS is called Big Bird as its byname?

I found “Big Bird” being used as the byname of public broad services in the article titled,“The Red and Blue Fantasies behind the Big Bird War” appearing in Time magazine’s October 9 issue which ...
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Idiom for opportunistically exploiting a situation to one's advantage

I was wondering what various figures of speech could be used to describe a situation where somebody exploits a situation in order to push their own agenda. For example in Persian we have 'Catching a ...
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453 views

Talking about not talking about the topic—name of figure of speech [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a name for “I don't mean to…, but” phrases? Term for mentioning X by saying “I will not say X” I am looking for a name of a ...
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Can you really “See that thing in person”?

Consider the following scenario: A woman at a store is shown a dress by a clerk. After a few moments, she tells the clerk that she would like "to see it in red". The clerk would then go and ...
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Figurative expression for outrageous/unlikely/overly bold claim

What expressions could one use to qualify an expression as unlikely, to soften the impact by changing it from accusation or hyperbole into unlikely (if outrageous) conjecture? Something like "God ...
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What does “Don't call him late for dinner” mean?

What does the phrase "Don't call him late for dinner" mean? As I am very thin, I believe this is a figure of speech used to sarcastically describe someone of near fragile size. I am not sure. I am ...
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Where does the phrase “No skin off my teeth/nose” come from?

The phrase "it's no skin off my nose/teeth" is generally used to mean that something isn't much of a risk/concern. But where does it come from? Specifically with respect to teeth. What is tooth skin?
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Some, others and again others?

If I want to add a third option to the construct "Some..., others", what is the best way to put it? Some, others and again others? So: Some people like apples, others like oranges and again others ...
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Can you be literal about non-literal things?

I know many hackles have been raised over the misuse of the word literal. Let's say there are a couple of mobsters talking about a third guy who has made a minor mistake, and jokingly one says, "I'm ...
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Figure of Speech vs. Figure of Thought

Is there any meaningful difference between a "figure of speech" and a "figure of thought". Searching for a definition of "figure of thought" leads to many esoteric discussions relating to ancient ...
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“What to do when you live in a shoe”

Where does the phrase "what to do when you live in a shoe" come from? I was asked today why I use slow internet and responded, "What to do when you live in a shoe" as though my internet limitation(s) ...
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Is this an example of litotes?

In Macbeth's Tomorrow speech To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted ...
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Difference between a synecdoche and metonym?

From the definitions of these two types of figures of speech (tropes, if you will), I have always understand them to mean the same thing. Essentially, that is the usage of either a specific attribute ...
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Origin and meaning of “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”

I'm having trouble understanding the rationale behind the meaning of an American English phrase of which I just became aware. That phrase is: You catch more flies with honey than you do with ...
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“Carved from the living rock” — since when was rock ever alive?

According to Etymonline, living dates to the 14th century, and refers to "the fact of dwelling in some place," from O.E. lifiende, prp. of lifan But we hear the phrase "the living rock" used all ...
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Difference between female and male usage [closed]

What explains the difference of a de facto larger frequency of vowels of one writer compared to another? In the statistics data I examined, a vowel had higher probability in the text from the female ...
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What is the name of this figure of speech?

I've been reading Nevil Shute books recently, and they are set in late-1940s Britain. As a consequence, the characters are always using expressions such as "frightfully good", "terribly good" and ...
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Meaning of a quote in movie Casino Royale (2006)

Vesper Lynd: There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table. Here what does the line "There are dinner jackets ...
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“A whole nother” way of looking at things

People say this so much (instead of "another whole" way, etc.) that I wonder how it got started. How did "another whole..." get changed to "a whole nother..."?
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“At the drop of a hat”?

Where does the figure of speech "at the drop of a hat" come from? I understand the phrase means "Immediately; instantly; on the slightest signal or urging. (Alludes to the dropping of a hat as a ...
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Is the meaning of “This is it” figurative?

The phrase "kick the bucket" is a figurative phrase - it means "to die", although using it does not imply any actual kicking or any actual buckets. The question I am asking is if the phrase "this is ...
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Meaning of “non-normative”?

What's the meaning of "a non-normative document"? Does "non-normative" mean "casual"? What's the significant difference between a normative document and a non-normative one?
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What rhetorical device is “she wears mink all day and fox all night” using?

What rhetorical device is the following statement using? She wears mink all day and fox all night. It's not a pun, it's not a syllepsis. Is there a word for false-puns of this sort?
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Of the difference between zeugma and syllepsis

I am confused about what is the relative meaning of zeugma compared to syllepsis, both in its current meaning and possibly in former understandings of these words. The New Oxford American Dictionary ...
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What is the difference between “metaphorical”, “allegorical”, and “figurative”?

What is the difference between metaphorical, allegorical, and figurative?
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Is “New and Improved” an oxymoron?

It irritates me that advertisers often claim a product is "New and Improved". Surely, if something is new (ie, has not existed previously), it can't be improved! And vice versa!
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What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?

What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?
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What is funny in this paraprosdokian?

I was reading the wiki page about paraprosdokians when I come across this sentence. One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas, how he got in my pajamas, I don't know. What is funny about it?
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What is this an example of: “I couldn't fail not to disagree with you less”?

Eisenhower used it constantly to fend off reporters. Is there a term to describe this type of phrase?
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355 views

Does a road that “snakes” always imply a “winding” road?

If one says that a road snakes, does it necessarily imply that the road is winding? Or can it also express that the road is long and stretched out?
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Which is larger a “chasm” or a “gulf?”

For the meaning: figurative: a profound difference between people, viewpoints, feelings, etc. Is a chasm or a gulf generally interpreted as being a larger difference? A: The gulf ...
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Is “Mecca” capitalized when used figuratively?

Waleed made his pilgrimage to Mecca. This is a given. But I would write: Bombay is India’s entertainment mecca Is this correct, or is Mecca capitalized in its figurative use, as well?
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Where can we find anacoluthon nowadays?

An anacoluthon <...> is a rhetorical device that can be loosely defined as a change of syntax within a sentence <...>. Grammatically, anacoluthon is an error; however, in rhetoric it is a ...
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Can snow be dry?

Disclaimer: There are a lot of questions packed in but their answers are interdependent. Different textures of snow can be described as "wet" and "dry". Considering that water is the quintessence of ...
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Literal echelons?

Merriam-Webster and the OED list only figurative senses of the word echelon (i.e. military formations and organizational ranks). Would it be incorrect to use it in the literal sense of the French word ...
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“Money for rope” … meaning and derivation?

I was listening to John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" just now, and in it there's a recurring line: ". . . money for rope." I never thought about it much before, but it strikes me this has ...
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Where does the phrase “Scare the Dickens out of…” originate from?

Where does the phrase "Scare the Dickens out of..." originate from? And does it refer to Charles Dickens?
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Similes and Metaphors - are similes a subset of metaphors?

I've always been taught that metaphors and similes both draw a parallel between two disparate ideas/thoughts/objects, but that a simile is a more explicit comparison using the word "like" or "is", ...