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Is it? And if it is or is not, can you include some explanation why? And in which case it would/wouldn't be?

3 Answers 3

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Definition: Metaphor

This phrase has been used in the "The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales"

"And as they were so weary that their legs would carry them no longer, they lay down..."

You can literally read the phrase and it makes perfect sense, so it isn't a metaphor. The answer may vary depending on the source you are referring the phrase from. You'll have to add more detail to your question.

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It isn't a metaphor. Nothing is being compared to their legs. It is arguably anthropomorphisation, since legs have no volition ("would"), only ability, so "could" is a more accurate verb.

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Yes and No

The word "metaphor" has a strict meaning and a broad meaning. Strictly, it's a figure of speech that equates one thing to another, which is not literally true, such as, "I am the sun."

More broadly, "metaphor" can mean any figurative language. (Note, this broad usage is not just a layman's definition; it gets used this way in literary scholarship, too.)

So, strictly speaking, your example is not a metaphor. More broadly speaking, the expression is a personification: his legs were not literally "carrying" him, nor did they "refuse" to carry him at the end.

The expression evokes a feeling of the walker being "abandoned" by his own legs, which is, of course, not literally true.

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