What figurative language is "to drive the idea out of my mind"? Is it an idiom or personification? Or something else? I have tried to figure it out but I can't.

The full sentence is:

He wanted to drive the idea of studying Kabbalah from my mind.

(From Night by Elie Wiesel)

  • 1
    Which of these seems like the fundamental, basic sense of 'drive / driving'? He's driving me mad. / The hammer is quickly driving the nails into the soft wood. / Various factors are driving house prices up. / He's driving a hard bargain. The basic (physical) usage here is literal, the rest are metaphorical. Aug 23, 2014 at 23:34
  • @EdwinAshworth No I meant "He wanted to drive the idea of studying Kabbalah from my mind. In vain." A short sentence in Night by Elie Wiesel. So sort of like "He's driving me mad" I think? I don't know English is not my best subject. And could you explain what literal usage is? Haha I'm sorry
    – Anna
    Aug 23, 2014 at 23:52
  • A quick check in AHDEL gives this list of senses: 1. To push, propel, or press onward forcibly; urge forward: [drove the nail into the post] drove the horses into the corral. 2. To repulse or put to flight by force or influence: drove the attackers away; drove out any thought of failure. (I've added a further example.) Notice that they give the 'physical', observable-by-eye examples first. This is true also with Collins, RHK Webster's and doubtless other dictionaries. The metaphorical usages ('drove out any thought' ...) are given later. Aug 24, 2014 at 8:02

3 Answers 3


I don't believe it is figurative. See entry 3b from Merriam-Webster

" to repulse, remove, or cause to go by force, authority, or influence "

  • I agree; none the less, I picture driving fat, dumb birds from a field, or driving a herd of beasts over a cliff.
    – Dan Bron
    Aug 24, 2014 at 1:25
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    @DanBron Perhaps driving a dumb bird out of a field is equivalent to driving a dumb idea out of your head! Aug 24, 2014 at 1:27

What figurative language is "to drive the idea out of my mind"?

drive out can be idiomatic TFD

  1. To force or entice someone or something to leave some place. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "drive" and "out."

As in your question. Here is another example:

What can we do to drive these troublesome demons out of your mind?


That is personification due to the fact that ideas cannot drive and humans/people can

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    That would depend on what the rest of the sentence is (which is given in a comment). "He wanted to drive the idea of studying Kabbalah from my mind." is not personification. (I've edited the question to be clearer, and you should edit your answer.)
    – Laurel
    Oct 23, 2018 at 17:34
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