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)

0
votes
3answers
304 views

Word to describe when, where or how privacy is kept, trust is maintained, and integrity matters

Here is a list of scenarios on why honest people would need privacy and anonymity. My marketing research tells me that the word "anonymity" is too closely related to hacking, and "privacy" reminds ...
0
votes
5answers
677 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the origin and meaning of “coyote ugly”?

I overheard two scoundrels discussing one of their dates as being "coyote ugly".
24
votes
14answers
3k views

An idiomatic phrase meaning that you are aware of a coming change based on minor signals you've observed over time

I feel like there's a phrase that people sometimes use in order to indicate that they have been aware of an impending change or event. The phrase draws on the metaphor of a soldier placing his ear to ...
1
vote
2answers
99 views

Would any of these be a metaphor?

Both quotation are from The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna in case you're wondering. Quotation One: "I watched her face as the shades of knowledge deepened, the shift in emotion, the flare of ...
-1
votes
1answer
104 views

What is the specific meaning of “Smoking crater?”

I'm suddenly seeing and hearing the phrase "smoking crater." I've noticed it mostly from sportswriters and commentators, usually in reference to a coach leaving a college team in bad shape, or an ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

Use of “purdah” metaphorically: appropriateness

When I was a kid, the word "purdah" was regularly used in the UK metaphorically to mean a (usually voluntary) screening or separation. For example, the chancellor had a period of pre-budget purdah. ...
-1
votes
1answer
58 views

Word or phrase for “wrapping yourself in a braid” [closed]

What do you call the action, the process of wrapping yourself (or someone else) in a braid? It would be better if your word/phrase specifically refers to the case of: A loose braid which you can ...
0
votes
1answer
94 views

Ex's and Oh's : What is “Oh's”? [closed]

What does "Oh's" mean in the pop song "Ex's and Oh's" by Elle King? http://www.metrolyrics.com/exs-ohs-lyrics-elle-king.html I'm not asking any interpretations of lyrics, but would like to know what ...
0
votes
1answer
30 views

Does the phrase 'liquefy conventional meanings' work?

For a non-native speaker it is always hard to 'hear' if particular metaphorical language works. In an article for an academic journal I am writing about how the recurrent usage of particular ...
2
votes
1answer
55 views

Word to describe situation where you are speaking to one person but in reality you are speaking to everyone else in the room?

I understand the answers from many people as a kerfuffle but what about the circumstance leading up to the kerfuffle. An example of this is: Person A to Person B: Where are the pens we used for the ...
3
votes
7answers
13k 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 ...
6
votes
10answers
33k 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). ...
6
votes
6answers
185 views

A phrase to describe the external spreading phase of some infection?

I believe that some types of fungal/viral/other infections have a life cycle in which they kill a host entity (possibly plant or animal), and then around that time they also "bloom" or "erupt" from ...
11
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

What do you call a word that's been used unusually (not according to definition)?

For example, when you say: They smelt music or He forged a meaning out of it According to dictionary definitions, the word choices in the above sentences might not fit. The usage is more ...
-2
votes
1answer
48 views

Is “teeming brain” a metaphor? [closed]

I am working about the figuritive language in Keats sonnet "when I have fears". Is "teeming brain" in line two a metaphor? I'm struggling to understand because English is my second language. Here is ...
1
vote
1answer
89 views

Ember or coal metaphor regarding love

In Russian, ember is used as a metaphor of something fading or dying (for example, love). Likewise, "to make the ember burn again" is a metaphor for bringing something back from near death. Is there a ...
9
votes
3answers
610 views

“light at the end of the tunnel” earliest occurence

I could ask this question on German.SE and probably a number of different indoeuropean SE sites as well, but here's my question: When looking at various online resources the metaphor "to see light at ...
0
votes
2answers
54 views

Is it a Metaphor? [closed]

This quote from the movie The Shawshank Redemption: Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you ...
-1
votes
2answers
37 views

patenting a new word [closed]

I have made a new word and I believe it may stand chance to get entered into English dictionary. What should I do to have it completed? Yours truly, Igor
13
votes
6answers
36k views

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?
1
vote
2answers
109 views

A powerful idiom for “low exposure” [closed]

Imagine someone creates a piece of art, but nobody notices it. Like a great book, which nobody reads because nobody knows that it exists. What are some powerful words or metaphors for this condition?
17
votes
9answers
4k views

Is there a word or phrase for something that one might wish exists, but most certainly doesn't?

An example might be a car that is fast, luxurious, reliable, gets great gas mileage, and is very cheap. Clearly we'd all love to own such a car, but it doesn't exist, and probably never will. There's ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

What do the joints signify in the metaphor “carve nature at the joints”?

I first encountered this metaphor in the 2nd sentence of p 267 , Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy (1 ed, 1999) by Simon Blackburn. If it pertains to my question below, please ask me to ...
3
votes
4answers
75 views

An Idiom as a reality

Is there a word to describe when you use an idiom to describe reality ? Examples : Raining cats and dogs and it is actually raining cats and dogs, Boxed in and you are actually surrounded by boxes.
1
vote
4answers
210 views

Is there a phrase(or a metaphor) that describes a person who has a restless mind?

I'm looking for a phrase that describes a person who always thinks about too many things at once and, therefore, looks(and acts) sloppy. Something like: "he has a swarm of vasps in his head". I can't ...
0
votes
2answers
56 views

The statement “people are humans”, as a metaphor? [closed]

I want to use the phrase "people are humans", as to differentiate between the perception of mindless ants running around, and individuals with complex feelings and understandings of the world. So for ...
1
vote
3answers
473 views

Why do we say “plant a kiss”?

The term plant means a living organism; a thing with roots, shoots and leaves that needs water and sun in order to grow. So why do we say "to plant a kiss"? She planted a kiss...
2
votes
3answers
6k views

“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 ...
1
vote
2answers
169 views

Can you speak metaphorically if you're using similes?

If someone is speaking and just used a simile, can you say they are speaking metaphorically even though they are using a simile and not a metaphor? Ex: "I'll be all over you! I'll be like peanut ...
0
votes
0answers
26 views

Is the phrase “my memories form into a mass of life” a metaphor?

The phrase "my memories form into a mass of life" belongs to a poem. Is it a metaphor or a personification? Could it be both?
1
vote
0answers
52 views

Is “face-off” a misnomer?

In ice hockey, the face-off is the method of starting play. The two teams line up in opposition to each other, and two opposing skaters try to gain control of the puck after it is dropped between ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
78 views

Can the following sentence be literal (or is it a metaphor)

I have the following sentence which I thought was implying that a metaphor is like a moustache Today I learnt how to wax a metaphor Having checked through wiktionary the only literal (i.e. ...
-5
votes
1answer
47 views

What does this particular phrase mean? [closed]

"His parents sent him away without a shilling". what does that imply? that his parents disowned him?
3
votes
4answers
141 views

Is it a metaphor when a writer describes a character as having arms contorted into knots?

When a writer describes a displeased character as having "arms, lips, eyes contorted into knots", is that actually a metaphor? Sometimes language feels figurative without a strong metaphorical sense.
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Word for giving animal characteristics (esp. physical ones) to humans

I am writing a paper about Art Spiegelman's Maus, specifically the metaphor that Spiegelman creates by depicting his obviously quite human characters with the heads of various animals, or a couple ...
0
votes
8answers
191 views

Word for “speeding up a process” in line with the idiom “to kick-start”

I am not a native English speaker that but I'm looking for a good word that highlights that a process is improved in that it completes more quickly. I thought there was a word that is semantically in ...
1
vote
3answers
80 views

What is the point of this metaphor? [closed]

It was a little death, not being able to make a tale out of the small moments of life. I don't see the connection between death and life. How do these relate and make this metaphor effective?
5
votes
9answers
79k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
31 views

“Humor is one of the strongest forces that humans connect over.”?

English isn't my first language so this question may seem stupid. Can you connect "over" something metaphorically? Example: Humor is one of the strongest forces that humans connect over. Of can ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Poetic License and the Throes of Translating Poetry [closed]

Is poetry in translation worthless? Or not? I don't know. Never mind that for now. I've just read a novella in verse translated into English by someone known for his lapses and Germanisms, but a ...
4
votes
2answers
283 views

Is there a word that means a colour used metaphorically?

Examples: Green to mean naive Blue to mean depressed Black to mean bad White to mean good In my googling of this question, I’ve come across a lot of philosophical and linguistic discussion about ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

What's a word that means or historic character who sybolizes a spy whose own lack of knowledge reveals his subterfuge?

The context is a spy who becomes revealed to the person who is spied upon because the spy lacks knowledge of the target's (the spied upon's) specialty work
3
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
151 views

What is the meaning of “humbler walls”?

I'm totally confused about this sentence; its grammar seems crazy. Please help me to understand it. It is from a documentary film about ancient history I've watched. Life wasn't easy for ordinary ...
25
votes
10answers
7k views

What does ‘If she’s a feminist, then I’m a T. Rex’ mean? [duplicate]

There was the following passage in New York Times’ (October 6) article commenting on GOP Presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina under the headline, ‘If she’s a feminist, then I’m a T. Rex’: “Her ...
6
votes
2answers
365 views

What does “a Kosher ham” signify in the line, “Stone described himself as a kosher ham ready to go to the opening of door.”?

I found the article titled, How Jackie O played matchmaker to two of America’s greatest minds appearing in Vanity Fair (May 18) very interesting and informative, but am curious to know what the ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Anthropomorphism vs Personification usage

There seems to be a large overlap in the definitions of Anthropomorphism and Personification and they are somewhat interchangeable, but in what context is one of these words preferred over another? ...