A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels."

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

17
votes
13answers
5k views

What metaphor or phrase can describe an object that is aesthetically pleasing yet totally useless?

Is there a conventional metaphor or phrase that just hits this meaning:good-looking yet useless?
1
vote
4answers
1k views

A phrase for something that is beyond our reach or unattainable [closed]

“Sir Francis Chichester was knighted by the queen. But for his other circumnavigating counterparts, a knighthood is beyond reach...” What is an alternative term for beyond reach?
0
votes
2answers
362 views

Does “Should I wash my hands of this?” suggest a bribe?

Should I wash my hands of this? Has this expression ever been used as a way of suggesting a bribe?
3
votes
1answer
91 views

Is William Blake's usage of “to break a net” idiomatic or metaphorical?

The following passage is from William Blake's 1793 work "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell": A man carried a monkey about for a shew, & because he was a little wiser than the monkey, grew vain, ...
4
votes
2answers
251 views

What does “sheafs” mean in “The rays cut straight sheafs”?

This sentence is from Atlas Shrugged, depicting rays of light running through coils of steam enveloping a building: The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through the coils. Could ...
5
votes
9answers
53k views

What is the word to describe something that has hidden meaning?

I'm writing an essay (yay) on I'm the King of the Castle, by Susan Hill. I am trying to explain how the description of the atmosphere may have hidden meanings (e.g. the fact that Warings is a ...
11
votes
10answers
2k views

Something of value that is worthless in the current context?

Is there a word/metaphor/idiom for something that has value, but is worthless (or even harmful) in the current situation? To use a couple of monetary examples: A check for $1,000,000 has potential ...
0
votes
2answers
346 views

Can we use “remain in the dark” in metaphorical sense?

I think, we can use "remain in the dark" when we communicate that we don't have light and are kept being in the dark actually. But, can we use the phrase as metaphor in the academic paper? For ...
30
votes
23answers
10k views

Are there metaphoric English expressions meaning “keeping composure at a fatal moment, never panicky”?

We have a Japanese old saying, “俎板の上の鯉-manaita no ueno koi, a carp laid on a chopping block” for describing (1) a critical situation you cannot avoid, and (2) a person who is self-poised at such a ...
1
vote
2answers
447 views

Understanding grammatical structure of a sentence using commas

I couldn't understand the use of commas in the second sentence in the following passage and the overall meaning of it. This doubt and the still-harsh tyranny of the materialistic philosophy ...
-1
votes
1answer
236 views

Need clarification about some metaphors/slangs used by a girl I met online [closed]

Hi I was talking to this girl online and she uses lots of metaphors and slangs out of which few of them just gone over my head so I would appreciate if you guys could help me out understanding the ...
0
votes
1answer
111 views

Are these hyperboles? [closed]

I have to write a diary entry in the perspective of Romeo about Juliet. We just finished act 1. so are any of these hyperboles ? When she walks outside, nature stops for a second to admire her ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the part of the iceberg that is not the tip called?

I was explaining that something is the "tip of the iceberg". I then wanted to explain what the other bit of the iceberg consisted of. What's the bit of the iceberg that is not the tip? Or should I ...
3
votes
2answers
541 views

Is it alright to mix metaphors?

An old Norfolk character I knew, used to say: 'Tha's no use you a-putten yar foot down, if you hearnt got a leg to stand on'. In English, that is: 'It's no good putting your foot down if you haven't a ...
1
vote
3answers
674 views

An analogy to describe an individual who merges traits he finds from others in order to develop his own identity? [closed]

I am writing a research paper in which my thesis concerns how a character matures through his merging of characteristic traits in his relationships with other characters. How can I introduce this ...
0
votes
1answer
152 views

Why is it “From Dublin to Los Angeles” in the Western world, that has left the church moribund in 20 century culture wars?

In connection with my previous question about the meaning of “the Church’s existential problem”, there was the following sentence in the same article of Time Magazine (December 11, 2013) — “Pope ...
3
votes
3answers
140 views

Inanimate life companion

This is gonna be pretty vague, but hopefully by listing examples, someone will understand what I'm grasping for. I'm searching for a metaphor to describe a tool, weapon, vehicle, set of techniques, ...
4
votes
11answers
26k views

Phrase for something that is always out or reach/you almost have but never can get

I believe there is a two-word phrase for something that is always just out of reach for you and which you cannot ever seem to get. (It is not Tantalus or anything having to do with Tantalus, please). ...
2
votes
0answers
97 views

Does this translation make sense? [closed]

I'm trying to translate a piece of my poem which is in Persian into English. I've so far come up with this: And what you see is a bewildering reflection of shadows, leaving the light lost on its ...
1
vote
1answer
398 views

Is “to have a perfect ear for music” a metaphor or a metonymy?

This phrase seems to be a metaphor to me, however I guess you could say "ear" might be referring to a concept of being able to make music well. Would you say it's a metaphor or metonymy?
0
votes
1answer
714 views

metaphor of “lily” and the meaning of “emerging from the mire”

I ran into this: "And you, Madame Lucrezia, flower of the Borgias, if a poet painted you as the catholic Messalina, a skeptical Gregorovious turned up and almost completely absolved you of that ...
5
votes
1answer
145 views

Metaphoric meaning of “racket”

How does the original meaning of racket lead to the following metaphoric meanings? an illegal or dishonest scheme for obtaining money a person’s line of business or way of life
1
vote
2answers
345 views

How would you characterize the phrase 'a more perfect union'? [closed]

My question pertains to the usage of 'a more perfect union' in its original context-- the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. I want to say that this is a metaphor, because the authors are using the ...
11
votes
5answers
8k views

What is the best way to describe someone who is very social in a party?

If a person is very social in a party, striking up conversations with different people from one end of the hall to the other end, are there some good expressions to describe this person? In Chinese, ...
4
votes
1answer
175 views

“Advice I wish I'd had ears to hear” — is this phrase in common use? Origins?

Productivity writer Merlin Mann often uses the phrase "ears to hear" on his podcast. An example from his writing: "a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or ...
1
vote
1answer
156 views

Categorization of figures of speech

Is there a clear categorization of tropes? Some talk of the four master tropes (Metaphor, Synecdoche, Metonymy, Irony), Whereas some give An extended, unsorted list of tropes Some talk about the ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Using “might as well have been” in analogies

I've seen this phrase in many literary works. Does it have the same purpose as like, as if, and as though (in the context of similes/metaphors)? For example: She might as well have been a skinny ...
3
votes
1answer
259 views

“…Batman is the personality-shelf where Bruce Wayne stores the crazy-plates…” - is this just a metaphor, or is it something else?

In this article on Cracked.com, I discovered this gem of a phrase: ...Batman is the personality-shelf where Bruce Wayne stores the crazy-plates... ...and I thought it was a fantastic phrase. ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

What does it mean 'to shoot oneself in the foot'?

In the First World War soldiers in the trenches on both sides would sometimes give themselves a non-fatal wound ( intentionally shooting themselves in the foot, whilst making it appear as an accident, ...
0
votes
1answer
95 views

Someone just told me that my business website structure should be “well-siloed”… what does that mean. [closed]

I know they're referencing a silo but i'm not understanding how it correlates/translates to business structure and presentation. are they talking about the function of the silo?
3
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the origin & meaning of “It used to drive me spare”? [duplicate]

While watching the eponymous documentary on Stephen Hawking, his wife described her husband's behaviour when he was deep in thought. She said he could be surrounded by children and not even notice ...
0
votes
4answers
568 views

What does “Eat Lunch or be lunch” mean in this context?

I came across this phrase: The problem facing companies today is that there are too many fishermen and not enough fish in the market. It’s a matter of eat lunch or be lunch — or, as stated by ...
5
votes
5answers
243 views

Baseball metaphor, equivalent to 'lay your body on the line'

The English expression 'you need to be prepared to lay your body on the line' is a football metaphor, referring to the potentially painful act of lying down on the goal line to prevent a goal being ...
2
votes
1answer
291 views

Local color / color commentary

What are the origin and history of the phrases "local color" and "color commentary"? There is a tiny bit in the dictionaries about this use of color to mean 'additional detail and anecdotes' but not ...
2
votes
1answer
331 views

Can I use less-common technical terms metaphorically?

Can any technical term be used metaphorically? For instance, can I use the word assimilable which means capable of being absorbed and incorporated into body tissue (because it's broken down into a ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
2
votes
3answers
297 views

What is a “Victorian audience”?

So I came across a sentence while reading the book On The Map: His[Eratosthenes’] world map was drawn in about 194 BC. No contemporary version exists, but the cartographer’s descriptions were ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “sock puppeting” mean?

I found a Meta Stack Overflow post in whose answer Servy says: it's sock puppeting and is a very serious violation "Sock puppeting" is a picture. But why a sock? Is it like playing with your own ...
0
votes
2answers
353 views

Finance metaphors for relationships [closed]

I've recently read that there are quite a few metaphors describing relationships between humans that are taken from the financial sector. However, examples were very scarce. On my list I have ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Where to use the word “tumbleweed”

What is the correct place to use the word tumbleweed? Can we use it as a metaphor for a person who always irritates us?
0
votes
1answer
253 views

Choosing a proper article or word for metaphor [closed]

I'm a breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. I'm the breaking wave, because I can't get away from the sea called the world. Which article is proper for metaphor? The ...
2
votes
2answers
494 views

sow the seeds for (whence definite article? )

I have a quote from an article in The Economist: But they could re-establish a grip on large parts of the south and east of the country, give succour to al-Qaeda, and sow the seeds for a new ...
13
votes
2answers
26k views

Origin of “to have a cow”

The phrase "to have a cow" is defined as "to be very worried, upset, or angry about something" in Free Dictionary Online. Other sources also define it to mean to react very strongly and emotionally. ...
1
vote
1answer
341 views

What “a man who is happy to lie in the gutter, and watch while other climb mountain” is like?

In Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “The Fourth Estate,” there is a scene Keith Townsend, one of two heroes featured as the owner of the largest communication empire in Australia responds the questions fired ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Metaphor for an important discovery

"Joe Blogg's Damascus" can be used as a metaphor to denote a sudden turning point in attitude, behaviour or some other feature of Joe Blogg's life. What would be a similar metaphor for an important ...
1
vote
2answers
623 views

What metaphor can I use for a collection of notes/facts?

I'm trying to come up with a metaphor that represents a collection of facts/notes around one thing. I've tried "deck" and "notebook" but they don't really work. Any ideas?
4
votes
2answers
309 views

How different is “he is a voice of reason awakening the public” from “he has a voice of reason awakening the public”?

In association with the question on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Senator Rand Paul in the Time Magazine article “2013 Time 100” that I posted earlier today, I have an additional question about the ...
0
votes
2answers
612 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
443 views

Phrase for someone taking over business when you skip for humanity

Is there a witty or general saying of indicating the act of taking over a business when a person, business or country skips an opportunity for general benevolence? Examples: If I don't sell weapons ...