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

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Can “cinema” work as a collective noun?

The local cinema do not even consider screening this movie. In the above sentence, "cinema" is employed to denote one or more of the staff who determine the programme. My question is, does it ...
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99% of people would do x

99% of people, 99% of things, events, dogs, whatever. 99% Recently I used what is to me as a Brit a pretty common figure of speech, saying "99% of people would x", meaning simply that the vast ...
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Figure of speech: Repeated synonyms

I am looking for the name of the figure of speech, where two words with similar meaning are used together to convey an idea more emphatically. For example: 'Cease and Desist', 'Null and void', etc. ...
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66 views

Is there any authoritative source from where we can find out if a phrase or figure of speech is American English or British English? [closed]

For example the figure of speech " One swallow doesn't make a summer" is British English. Similarly the figure of speech 'All hat and no cattle" is American English. Is there any source from where ...
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137 views

What does “wound for sound” mean and where did it come from?

This is a figure of speech that's been in my lexicon virtually forever. I'm not sure where I learned this, but to me it means "keyed up and ready to go". A combination of high energy, tension, and ...
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81 views

An alternative to the phrase “God bless you” [closed]

In the context of wishing someone a Blessing,if I choose not to use the term God , what are the other words that can be used that still conveys the same meaning as the phrase "God bless you"?
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Is the expression “You the Man” gender neutral?

The expression "You The Man" is generally used to compliment a male. Can this expression be used to compliment a female? If not, what is a suitable alternative?
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221 views

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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249 views

“I'm happy to see that you are sober as a judge” Is this a rhetorical device?

Context: A few decades ago, during the electoral campaign for governor, there was a televised debate between the three major parties candidates. Candidate A, the favorite according to the polls, was ...
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83 views

Aphorisms that use two words in reverse order [duplicate]

I've found aphorisms often that play on the meaning of two words and their interaction and was wondering what one might call them. An example is the PJ Harvey song name: The whore hustles and ...
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335 views

From Avocadoes to Asparagus, from kangaroos to koalas

What is the name of this literary saying? People use this figure of speech in order to express a wide coverage or variety of a certain class, such as vegetable species available in a market for ...
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196 views

List of new idioms from our era? [closed]

A recent question was about the new idiom in English "it goes to eleven". (It dates from 1984.) I was wondering, Taking "recent" or "in our generation" as since the 1980s... a) What's the single ...
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44 views

discerning between “metaphor” and“ symbol”

I am wondering if symbol and metaphor could be considered interchangeable-- And, when they cannot. Or, would you please show me an authoratative source? Any comment or feed back would greatly be ...
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107 views

Richard Feynman is certainly not mischievous!

In the introduction of Richard Feynmans book Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, a colleague describes Feynman's character. The description makes sense to me - except for one word. The word ...
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3answers
156 views

What figure of speech takes the form “[concrete noun] of [abstract noun]” (non-anthropomorphic)

What is the precise technical figure of speech for a phrase that pairs a concrete noun (non-anthropomorphic*) to an abstract noun in the form of "[concrete] of [abstract]"? The particular example I ...
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76 views

What does “wear shoes” mean in this idiom?

I was reading an article today that used "wear shoes" metaphorically and I have no idea what they're trying to say. The context is an Indian outsourcing company diversifying by using its existing ...
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57 views

Asking about figures of speech [closed]

Is steady my knees an image and why ?and also chewing on his pipe?and shuffling of their feet? the treble of them are extracts from a prose text called "she walked alone" thank you..
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5answers
523 views

“Freedom is slavery” and “Ignorance is strength” - What kind of rhetorical strategy is this?

What kind of rhetorical strategy (or fallacy?) is it when someone uses words with opposite meanings and combines them in what seems to be a contradiction? In George Orwell’s 1984 we can find: ...
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65 views

Waterproof shod?

In Norwegian we have a saying, vanntette skodd, that directly translated to English would be waterproof shod. It means that there is a segregation between two subjects such that not even water passes ...
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80 views

'A word in your shell-like' drops the noun from the original noun phrase. Are there any similar constructs?

I first encountered this from the mouth of 'Rumpole of the Bailey', and I've since seen it in lots of places. But I can't dredge up any similar constructions, where the original adjective remains ...
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199 views

What figure of speech is this, “assaulted by a haircut”?

"That guy is assaulting us with that haircut". There's some hyperbole in there, but its definitely a substitution of some sort.
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418 views

What do these two figures of speech mean? Embrace the grind and lower your shoulder

I came across these two figures of speech:(a) Embrace the grind and (b) Lower your shoulder in one of the Instagram posts of Dwayne Johnson(The Rock) Since I am not a native English speaker I just ...
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286 views

What is “as smart as paint”

R.L.Stevenson, Treasure Island: chapter VIII. "At the sign of the Spy-Glass" John Silver says that Jim Hawkins is "as smart as paint". What does he mean?
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Meaning of a mixed metaphor from “The Gift of The Magi”?

This is from The Gift of The Magi by O Henry (William Sydney Porter). Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. (part 4, paragraph 5 in the reference ...
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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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what kind of figure speech is in the sentence? [closed]

what kind of figure of speech is in "If you do not get lowered in your own eyes. While you raise yourself in those of others"
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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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625 views

The Yellow Wallpaper - What does *Smooch* mean?

I was reading a brilliant piece of Feminist Literature : The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman which uses the word smooch three times, all in reference to the yellow wallpaper: Then ...
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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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“Childlessness is hereditary in our family” What do you call a statement containing a contradiction such as the example?

This kind of sentence is usually absurd and may or may not be recognized as such by the person who utters it. She will regret it till the day she dies, if she lives that long! "Aren't you going to ...
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262 views

What is the correct grammar to use for this common style of speaking?

Oftentimes when people want to emphasize something, an idea is repeated three times, but without closing it as a full sentence. I am not sure how to write this in a formal essay. Here is my example: ...
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What's the name of this figure of speech playing with the use-mention distinction?

The following is a figure of speech I've seen a couple of times in my native language of German. Though I have no reason to doubt it exists, I don't remember ever seeing it used in English, so I've ...
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Which figure of speech is this?

Suppose I've written a story that is set in ancient times. And I refer to something quite modern in it. Like I'm writing about the roman empire suppose, and I write 'He looked at the time in his ...
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Other words for or similar to synecdoche

What size shirt are you wearing? I'm wearing a large. In this instance, large is a noun used in place of the understood [large] shirt. I'm trying to figure out if there is a word ...
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549 views

How does “not least” mean “in particular; notably”?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning? not least = In particular; notably I couldn't find the etymology for this ??adverbial phrase?? I ...
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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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109 views

What figure(s) of speech or expression are in play here?

I recently heard a somewhat poetic song lyric that I couldn't pin down. The writer says of a failed relationship: We broke a diamond with our bitter words. I get diamond as a metonym for ...
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Possession and personification

Is the act of possessing an example of personification if attributed to inanimate objects? Here, "possession" means the possession of physical things as well as the possession of virtues or qualities ...
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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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What is the origin of “in a jiffy”?

What is the origin of "in a jiffy"? Etymology online Dictionary says origin unknown but speculates that it was slang (cant) for lightning and dates it as 1785. Wikipedia agrees but adds that the ...
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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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“The only witness is a prostitute!” What do you call this type of rhetoric in English? [closed]

The defense attorney: “…and finally, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client can never be considered legally guilty unless the prosecutor can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And, ...
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Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Is there a term for a word like Democratic in Democratic People's Republic of Korea? The key point here is that the word is being used precisely because it's false. It has something in common with a ...
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What kind of rhetorical strategy is it when someone points out a potential sticking point in his proposition before anyone can criticize it?

e.g. "I know some of you might consider this question general reference, but think of all those people who will be reading it all over the world and how it will enrich our data bank." "Of course we ...
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1answer
90 views

What figures of speech are common in “roasts”? [closed]

When a celebrity or personality is "roasted", lots of bad things are said about and to the (un)fortunate guest; at the end usually there is a change in mood and the person is acknowledged by the ...
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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", ...