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."

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

1
vote
2answers
43 views

Hard on the outside but soft on the inside (personality attribute)?

What is a single word (or idiom, or metaphor) that can be used to describe a person's personality that is "hard" or "tough" on the outside, but sensitive and soft on the inside? Something that says: ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
1
vote
3answers
65 views

A simile / metaphor for the concept that an entity is formed from a wide range of factors

I would really appreciate any help with the following. I am trying to explain that health is not simply determined by biological factors. Instead it is shaped by a whole host of variables: ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

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 ...
2
votes
3answers
204 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

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?
3
votes
1answer
109 views

Meaning of: “The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right”

This is a Mark Twain aphorism: The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. This is apparently intended to be easily understood, but the ...
1
vote
1answer
51 views

What do the expressions “offshore”, “blind filing” and “operating at a total loss” mean?

In the 2014 film The Other Woman, there is an exchange between several characters: Carmela - Yay.- Mark's not just a cheating scumbag, he's also a thief. Look what I found. This is a list of all ...
14
votes
1answer
6k views

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", ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

What does “A Gossip Girl in Sweet Valley with traveling pants” mean?

In the 2010 film Easy A, there is an exchange between several characters: Rhiannon: Aren't you supposed to be like, eternally in love with him, and shit? Olive Penderghast: Yes, I believe ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

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 ...
1
vote
9answers
682 views

Is there a metaphorical word or phrase for a potential trouble maker?

More specifically, someone who might open "undesirable doors" and fill you with profound regret for letting him/her into your life. The idiom I'm trying to find would be used in the following ...
1
vote
2answers
387 views

What did Kate mean when she said: “(…)? Or did Big Pussy and Meadow miss you too much?”

In the 2014 film “The Other Woman”, there is an exchange between several characters Phil: Who's this? Carmela: I'm Carmela, Kate's decorator. Phil: Oh. Really? When did you fire ...
0
votes
2answers
113 views

Should I wash my hands of this?

Should I wash my hands of this? Has this expression ever been used as a way of suggesting a bribe?
3
votes
5answers
7k views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
100 views

'Dim as dishwater', or 'dim as ditchwater'? [closed]

Is the normal expression 'as dim as dishwater' or 'as dim as ditchwater? When you google this it comes up as 'dull as dishwater/ditchwater'. There is a difference between being 'dim' and being ...
-1
votes
1answer
239 views

What does “ambush Prince Charming's wife” mean?

In the 2014 film “The Other Woman”, there is an exchange between several characters King Kate: So what do I do now? So I'm, now I'm Barb Melman? Barb Melman got divorced and now she has cheek ...
0
votes
0answers
38 views

Single word for a person of few words [duplicate]

What is the single word for a person who expresses every emotion with a few or single word.
3
votes
10answers
5k 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). ...
18
votes
8answers
5k views

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 ...
0
votes
2answers
78 views

Can a person have a “dextrous mind”?

Can we say that a man has a dextrous mind? This would mean that he has a highly skilled brain which is capable of excelling at a certain mental activity, or that he as an individual is capable of ...
1
vote
2answers
61 views

A “Frankenstein's monster” similar metaphors

Although originally it's a novel character, a "Frankenstein's monster" became a metaphor for "something that cannot be controlled and that attacks or destroys the person who invented it." However, are ...
14
votes
5answers
906 views

“Pandora's Box” metaphors

The majority of definitions give the same meaning - "Pandora's box" is a synonym for "a source of extensive but unforeseen troubles or problems." Are there any other metaphors with the same meaning?
12
votes
10answers
2k views

Metaphors similar to “Trojan Horse”

I'm looking for metaphors (non-jocular) with the same meaning as "Trojan Horse" - "A person or thing intended to undermine or destroy from within."
0
votes
1answer
114 views

What's the meaning of “Bueller” as a joke? [closed]

Somewhere on the internet I've read about a guy ordering a coffee in the name of "Bueller". Apparently, the cashier called out that name repeatedly. I've looked up the term but it gave me no clue as ...
0
votes
4answers
70 views

Which concept in physics is closest to the general concept of power?

The general concept of power, as in social and political power, but also as in "power levels", is very different from the concept of power in physics (where it refers to the rate of doing work). Since ...
11
votes
6answers
48k views

The difference between an analogy and a metaphor?

Many a time I've asked what the difference is between an analogy and a metaphor. I've asked it to my teacher, on internet sites, to my parents, so on and so forth. I got a different answer every time, ...
10
votes
2answers
11k 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. ...
3
votes
3answers
7k views

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 ...
0
votes
1answer
105 views

i feel over-above-on the moon metaphor

I feel over the moon. I feel above the moon. I feel on the moon. What's the difference between the three sentences above and what I should prefer to express an ecstatic sense?
15
votes
4answers
3k views

“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 ...
5
votes
1answer
76 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
6
votes
4answers
2k views

What's the metaphorical meaning of “Tone-deaf”?

I understand the literal meaning of "Tone-deaf". As Wiktionary puts it: Unable to clearly distinguish the difference in pitch between different notes. But what's the metaphorical meaning? As ...
17
votes
13answers
4k 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
votes
3answers
226 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
1answer
178 views

Has a dead metaphor ceased to be a metaphor?

In its simplest sense, a metaphor is a figure of speech where, essentially, a simile is ellipted to what is apparently a false statement, but as the intention is to emphasise the similarity rather ...
3
votes
8answers
829 views

A metaphor for “ricochet back”

Is there a metaphor or a single word for "When you throw a rubber ball into a wall and it bounces back and hits you." Something like boomerang, but unexpected and with negative connotation.
0
votes
2answers
78 views

Pronoun with metaphor

Which pronoun do we use when referring to something metaphorically rather than directly? Todd Leopold, et al., May 28, 2014 writing on CNN: A literary voice revered globally for her poetic ...
1
vote
4answers
224 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?
30
votes
22answers
7k 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
655 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
19k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
58 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
174 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
108 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, ...
0
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
10answers
977 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
95 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
223 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
9k views

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 ...