A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible object to represent a less tangible object or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels."

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Use of American-Indian “How” in British English

These are excerpts from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Jerry Westerby screwed up his face in perplexity. 'That's what the boy wanted to tell me, you see, George. That's what he was ...
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Why can humour be dry but not wet?

Humour that is presented in a matter of fact way, as it weren't even an attempt to be funny, can be described as dry. And any sort of writing or information can be dry if it's overly factual in ...
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Understand the meaning of “tall order”

I was wondering why a "tall order" means a formidable task or requirement? Is it a metaphor? If so, how shall I understand it?
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Does the sentence “His confident visage hid insecurity” make sense?

I was wondering if this sentence makes sense, and if it does, is the meaning of visage in this sentence metaphoric? His confident visage hid insecurity.
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Roy Hodgson's “Church in the centre of the village” expression

Listening to the current England football manager, Roy Hodgson, speaking on the radio, he used a very curious expression while speaking about his team: "We have to try to get back to putting the ...
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Term, blend-word, or metaphor for being social but with boundaries [closed]

I'm looking for a term, word or metaphor for being social but within rules or boundaries. I don't like the word privacy as it has a negative connotation. I think the word social is overused or ...
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'harvest' as a metaphor — alternatives

I was wondering if it is fine to write From this project, I have learned [blah blah], and this is the most important harvest I have received from this project. What is a better metaphor or ...
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“Steamroller” to describe a person as very determined

Can "steamroller" be used to describe a person like in the following sentence? He is like a steamroller; nothing will stop him from getting work done. Or are there any other meanings to the word ...
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About the use of metaphorical language

I understand that when being metaphorical you're saying that something IS something, for example: "The moon is a ball of cheese". Because I'm saying that the moon IS a ball of cheese it is of course ...
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What is meant by “the passive voice remains 'an important arrow in the rhetorical quiver'”?

I'm interested in reading a series of the art and craft of writing by Constance Hale, a San Francisco-based journalist in the New York Times. The 4th in the series on NYT April 30 issue deals with the ...
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Contract metaphor for preconditions and postconditions [closed]

English is not my primary language but I'm "forced" to write code and code's comments in English. I'm now trying to develop a PHP code (doesn't really matter this aspect) like this: function ...
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Origin and exact meaning of “taken to the cleaners”

I know the meaning of this phrase by context, but the German analogs are no literal translations of this phrase and very dissimilar metaphors, meaning roughly: being tricked into something being ...
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Finding a suitable English translation of “An old donkey pulls all the weight all alone”

A Hungarian colleague of mine just impressed upon me the idiom An old donkey pulls all the weight all alone. The phrase itself isn't a common English idiom (not to my knowledge, anyway). I think ...
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What is the metaphoric antonym to “paycheck to paycheck living?”

Is there any metaphoric antonym to “pay check to paycheck living”? In Japanese we have the word, ‘Kirigirisu zoku’ – people who live like a grasshopper who squanders money and not prepare for winter ...
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Similar contrast [closed]

I'm writing an essay on metaphors. I have the following section: A final connection between Atticus Finch and a suit of armour is their ability to carry others’ skins. A suit of armour holds ...
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Meaning of “it's the tie to go along with X's tux”

I found this when learning underscore.js (a programming framework). The introduction says: It's the tie to go along with jQuery's tux. Does it mean that it is to be used along with jQuery or is ...
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Another way to say “fulfill your dream”

What's another phrase or metaphor that means "to fulfill your dream" or "make your dreams a reality?"
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Metaphorical antonym of “crutch”

Often times something is referred to as being a "crutch" for something, meaning they rely on it. What would be a suitable opposite to this metaphor? EDIT: To rephrase: What's a good metaphor/term for ...
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Is it possible to use the verb “torture” in a figurative sense?

Is it possible to use the verb "torture" in a tropical sense? I mean not in a physical sense. For example: Linda: "So what? Did you see Jack?" Tom: "Yes" Linda: "So did you talk to him ...
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“Let's burn that bridge when we come to it” – is this sort of idiom mixing considered a pun, and if so, does it have a specific name?

I couldn't come up with a short title, but the upside is that there is not much needed to be said in the body of the question! For @dmr (and others), it mixes “let's cross that bridge when we come ...
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Analogy for arising difficulties

I'm looking for a metaphor or analogy for experiencing more and more difficulties (after getting more familiar with a certain teaching or art). I think I have seen a few in the past but I can't think ...
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Does the term “witch-hunt” apply when referring to dealing with a real problem?

Should the term "witch hunt" only be used when dealing with a problem that does not exist, as in witchcraft, or does the term also apply when a problem does exist, but those dealing with it are ...
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Does “with the descriptive noun of other noun” count as a simile?

In school, we're taught that similes are analogies using "like" or "as". This is clearly just a mnemonic for a comparison between two distinct objects. Metaphors on the other hand combine the two ...
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How did kool-aid come to be the drink of fanboys?

Why does Kool-Aid relate to being something's fanboy/fangirl?
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Is “he runs like a cheetah” a kind of metaphor?

To make a metaphor about somebody's running speed, should we say "he is a cheetah" or "he runs like a cheetah"? Why?
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What does “Eat our peas” mean - where does it come from?

In a recent speech about the national debt, Obama said it's time to "Eat our peas". What does it mean - where does it come from?
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Ripe with Opportunity? Or Rife?

The Grammarist says I should use rife with rather than ripe with. So far so good and I agree. But is there an exception for ripe with opportunity? Googlefight overwhelmingly prefers ripe, and I like ...
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Is this passage an example of a metaphor, analogy, or both?

"The movement of humanity, arising as it does from innumerable arbitrary human wills, is continuous. To understand the laws of this continuous movement is the aim of history. . . . Only ...
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What is the metaphoric meaning of silo?

Process-oriented organizations break down the barriers of structural departments and try to avoid functional silos. I was wondering what silo means here? Is it a metaphor?
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559 views

Look who's talking

English isn’t my main language, so maybe this isn’t a tough one. Is there a metaphor to say “he’s talking about this deed as a wrong one but he certainly does it too’? In Spanish, you could say ...
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We haven't been able to use the fan for a fortnight

In a John Clarke and Brian Dawe interview, the phrase,"we haven't been able to use the fan for nearly a fortnight." What metaphoric expression was this phrase actually referring to? I've googled for ...
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Is it a poke in the eye with a sharp, or blunt stick?

Is it "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick", or "better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick"? I suspect that some sort of metaphor testing facility in the Discworld concluded that ...
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Short phrase for “things I did (wrote, drew, created, etc) when I was younger”?

What's a one or two word phrase that conveys the meaning "These are some things that I did when I was younger."? The context is a blog that features Writings, Photography, and Artwork. The short ...
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A “human cue tip”?

I am watching the excellent documentary "Nobelity" by Turk Pipkin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobelity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turk_Pipkin 4 minutes into the movie, there is a bit that I ...
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Ways to say methods of doing things

I saw a lot of usage of machinery, mechanism, to be used with similar meaning as techniques, ways, methods,.... For example, my math teacher said the machinery in the proof of some theorem is not ...
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What is the origin and meaning of “coyote ugly”?

I overheard two scoundrels discussing one of their dates as being "coyote ugly".
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Who were the 'pros from Dover'?

I was reading Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy this morning, and he compares his characters to the 'pros from Dover'. This was a phrase that I also remember hearing in the movie M*A*S*H - so it seems to be ...
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What does “piracy pirates” mean?

What does the following phrase mean? In Soviet Russia, piracy pirates YOU. What is implied by "piracy pirates YOU" and what by "IN Soviet Russia"? Update 1: My difficulty was because the term ...
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literally as a hyperbole [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Literally” and “Decimate” misuse I have seen a lot of backlash in internet media against people using the word literally to mean something not ...
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What does a “meteoric rise” imply?

Does the phrase "meteoric rise" connote that the rise is short-lived? Particularly bright? Generally lateral? It just seems like a meteor is not the best metaphor for a triumphant and lasting ...
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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", ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “another string to your bow”

Specifically - what kind of bow? I assume it refers to an archer's bow, but I guess it could relate to a bow used to play a stringed instrument (like a violin). Also, I've heard it used in the sense ...
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Is there a fine line between symbolism and metaphors in literature?

Assume we have a literary masterpiece that is abundant in symbolism and metaphors. Within this masterpiece, the author uses a brook running through a glade of trees to represent a couple of things ...