The word 'centerpiece' refers to the decorative piece in the center of a dining table. In the German translation ('Kernstück'), we can also use it figuratively, e.g., to refer to the central point of a text or theory. For example, we may say:

Comparative advantage is a centerpiece of theories on international trade.

Does this usage also exist in English? If not, what would be a better translation ('mainstay' perhaps)?

  • 3
    I would say yes, but generally (since there is only one centerpiece) things would be considered "the centerpiece".
    – katatahito
    Jul 1, 2019 at 8:46
  • 2
    I see no reason why any word wouldn't be able to be used figuratively. Jul 1, 2019 at 8:50
  • 1
    @Uhtred Paradoxically, I cannot think of a way to use figuratively figuratively… Jul 1, 2019 at 9:36
  • Can't almost anything be used figuratively in the right context? Jul 1, 2019 at 18:26
  • @JanusBahsJacquet The Winter Olympic figure skating team skated figuratively through the interview. I wouldn't say that's a literal use of figuratively. ;) Jul 1, 2019 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


Lexico (The Oxford Dictionaries) says that it can be used figuratively.

centrepiece (US centerpiece)

1 An ornament or display placed in the middle of a dining table.

1.1 An item, issue, etc. intended to be a focus of attention.
a domestic programme with healthcare as the centrepiece

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