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Questions tagged [figurative]

The tag has no usage guidance.

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The meaning of “to look at the lake”

I can't find it anywhere else as of right now, but I've seen people using this expression several times and I still haven't been able to understand what it means. I tried looking for its meaning on ...
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1answer
40 views

What kind of figurative language is this (“like music to my eyes”)? [closed]

What kind of figurative language is this, especially the "music to my eyes" part? “To take in green, after so much blue, was like music to my eyes.”
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3answers
62 views

Is there a word for missing the point due to literal interpretation of figurative phrases

Figurative language is when people use words or phrases to communicate an idea not meant to be taken literally, such as speaking in metaphors. Sometimes, people do not realize the figurative nature ...
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1answer
39 views

treacly vs. syrupy in figurative use

I wonder how, if at all, treacly and syrupy in figurative use differ in meaning, register, connotation, or in some other way. The figurative senses are frequently defined synonymously in dictionaries....
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2answers
54 views

To kill - Figurative Usages

I've been thinking about the verb 'to kill'. There are many figurative extensions ('kill a ball' (stop it); 'kill time'; 'my feet are killing me'). What happens in times of war, for example, when ...
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1answer
85 views

Adjective describing a person lacking an opinion of his own? [closed]

Is there a less figurative word than spineless, describing a general tendency by nature to adopt others' opinions and to shift stance frequently.The word should describe the trait rather than the ...
27
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2answers
2k views

Can the unexpected validity of the literal meaning of a phrase on top of the usual figurative sense be considered a pun?

This is from the transcript of an episode titled Leela and the Genestalk (WARNING: very badly formatted wiki page) of the popular cartoon series Futurama. (Background: a character named Mom has ...
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3answers
656 views

Is this an example of personification?

"It seemed the most spiritual of all the flower people I had ever met." (John Muir) If so, what part? I know saying "flower people" makes it personification but there are a few other parts of this ...
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2answers
896 views

What made the usage of the figurative meaning of “resilience” popular?

According to the Oxford Living Dictionary the meanings of resilience are: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. ‘the often remarkable resilience of so many British ...
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1answer
63 views

What is a word that describes a random word presented in a conversation? [duplicate]

For example, if two people are discussing cows & dairy farming & one person mentions carpet. Is there a word for this? Maybe a literary term?
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0answers
301 views

Figurative use of words

I love creative writing and especially figurative language. So, very often I dig dictionaries to find the idiomatic uses of words that would potentially 'add spice' in a way I want. All dictionaries ...
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2answers
420 views

Is “as much as the next guy” a simile?

Would "as much as the next guy" be a simile, or just an idiom? I am working on a lesson plan for similes, and was not 100% sure.
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3answers
2k views

Is the poetic device in “silence was golden” best described as metaphor or synesthesia?

After he stopped talking, silence was golden. What poetic device is used in this sentence? This was a multiple choice question with the following choices: symbol, synesthesia, metaphor, oxymoron. I ...
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2answers
285 views

Is a country's name a metonym - and when? E.g.: “The White House” / “Washington” / …“The U.S.?”

I'm interested in figurative language and metonymy in particular. Sometimes it seems hard to tell if a term qualifies as a metonym or would be considered linguistically "literal." One case is when ...
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2answers
101 views

Slang for Nation with Large Army

Is there a figurative/metaphorical term for a nation (or perhaps business, etc.) that has a very powerful military? I'm looking for something to parallel "deep pockets," like: Ancient Persia was an ...
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0answers
291 views

What does “mob-boss quality” mean? [closed]

I'm watching Gravity Falls and I've heard a word "mob-boss". Grunkle Stan says "mob-boss quality" about faux-gold watches: Dictionary says that literally "mob-boss" means: the head of a criminal ...
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1answer
904 views

what are the figurative meanings of “the light switch goes off”?

This is part of a CNN news article I need to translate. I am not quite sure about what situation the phrase describes. Here is the part the expression comes from: "When did the light switch go off for ...
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1answer
187 views

Unknown usage of the word “pudding”

Update: I've talked to the lady whose post I've read on Facebook. She said that this is not from a book, but part of a cooking show's transcript. Don't ask me why she didn't say earlier. I asked her ...
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1answer
183 views

Figurative usage of “salvific”

Note that English is not my mother-tongue. Would a native speaker understand that the following sentence is trying to convey that the protagonist is relieved by the fact that he'd been able to set ...
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1answer
238 views

Source of “miscarriage of justice”

What may be the source of the phrase "miscarriage of justice"? I keep hearing this phrase being used for cases where an innocent has been convicted. While the phrase paints quite a picture, I'm not ...
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5answers
6k views

Usage of “hysterical” meaning “very funny.”

One meaning (I am personally not very familiar with) of the adjective hysterical is: causing unrestrained laughter; very funny: Oh, that joke is hysterical! (Dictionary.com) No other ...
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4answers
268 views

What is a colloquial and figurative expression for the pieces of luggage you carry when travelling light

I am looking for a figurative or graphic expression to describe the minimal luggage content, fast to pack, or that you always have with you, without which you would feel less safe when travelling. The ...
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2answers
3k views

What's another way of saying “to hell with it”? [closed]

How do you express displeasure and disregard over something (e.g. To hell with that new policy _____'s office has come up with! I'm going to do whatever the hell I want) without sounding crude? I am ...
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1answer
2k views

“To come undone” [closed]

"Oh, it'll take a little time, might take a little crime to come undone (...) Who do you need, who do you love, when you come undone?" Please, can someone help me with this? I'm pretty sure that they'...
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1answer
955 views

Use of “lever” in The Great Gatsby

I'm doing a line by line analysis of The Great Gatsby. In critical commentary, the scene at the end of chapter two is frequently cited as evidence that Nick Carraway is either homosexual or bisexual. ...
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1answer
275 views

Figurative language of walkabout by James Marshall [closed]

Can anyone point out the figurative languages used in walkabout? Or is there any guide book for walkabout?
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2answers
487 views

Does “invertebrate” have a figurative meaning?

In Oxford Dictionary of English I looked up the word "invertebrate" and I only saw its zoological meaning: noun An animal lacking a backbone, such as an arthropod, mollusc, annelid, coelenterate, ...
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1answer
14k views

Which one is grammatically correct: “wood door” or “wooden door”

I have a grammar which says that: "The 'noun+noun' structure is normally used to say what things are made of." "A few pairs of nouns and adjectives are used as modifiers with different meanings. ...
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2answers
1k views

How can “in touch with” be used figuratively?

I am sure that we can say “get in touch with someone”, to mean figuratively that we are in good contact. Can I go further to use it more figuratively, e.g., to say that “my brother is not in touch ...
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7answers
4k views

Is “to boil down” formal enough to be used in scientific writing? [closed]

The phrase to boil down to something can be found in most dictionaries. However, to me, it sounds colloquial to write Finding an exact solution to Eq. 1 boils down to ... A real-life example ...
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2answers
195 views

Figurative usage of “astride”

Can "astride" be used in the figurative meaning of "half one on side and half on the other side"? The specific concept I'm trying to express is that a certain span of values with a certain length is ...
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3answers
2k views

Is “pass peach seeds” an idiom or just a figurative expression?

I was drawn to the phrase “pass peach seeds” in Thomas Harris’s novel “The Silence of the Lambs,” which I started to read last month and from whose text I have posted several questions, including one ...
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1answer
512 views

Why We Need To Know About Hyperboles [closed]

So I realize that hyperboles exist, but in school we're taught about them as if they are truly important to what we are going to be doing in life. I realize their usefulness, but why do we need to ...
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1answer
95 views

“Should you pull a ‘Burger King’ to cut your tax bill?” - What figurative device is it?

Burger King plans to buy the Canadian Tim Hortons in an effort to cut taxes as in the following link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/should-you-pull-a-burger-king-to-cut-tax-bill-2014-08-26 What ...
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3answers
1k views

What kind of figurative language is this phrase?

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 ...
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3answers
2k views

Does the word “out” carry sexual-minority flavour?

My NGO and partners are producing a feature film about Russian speakers in the world, and to explain its point as bias-breaking, we came up with the name out, that's nicely expanded in the slogan as ...
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1answer
151 views

Can an abandoned software project “gather dust”?

I was reading a blog of someone who is trying to emulate Nintendo Gameboy hard- and software as a hobby project. In the oldest post, in the following sentence: I eventually [...] bought myself a ...
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1answer
77 views

Is “pejorative” used correctly in “no pejorative bone in his body”?

He doesn't have a pejorative bone in his body. This is meant to describe a timid, non-confrontational person. Is pejorative being used correctly here, in a figurative sense?
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1answer
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What are “these lines” referring to? [closed]

Here is the context: Later I move over and talk with Jack and Wylla. Jack is leaving to head an English department down in Boise, Idaho. His attitudes toward the department here seem guarded, but ...
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2answers
2k views

What does 'fooling around' mean to a 1st Grader?

In English, when I say don't fool around with that, am I saying You are stupid! I mean, my son came back from school today with a note from the teacher: Dear Dad, I was fooling around with a ...
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2answers
2k views

What's the meaning of “emotional stake”?

What does an "emotional stake" mean? E.g: to increase the emotional stakes, I had my favorites in both.
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3answers
159 views

Is there a term for phrases which were once literal but now figurative?

We still hang up the phone, even though we really only push a button, not suspend it in a cradle. Sometimes we tape a television series, even though the DVR does the heavy lifting, not the analogue ...
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4answers
30k views

Use of “for one” [closed]

When we say “for one” in a sentence, what does it mean? I heard a sentence in a TV program where Robin Hood said: Who will bear this injustice? I, for one, will not. As I understand it, “I ...
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2answers
7k views

Is there a name for this literary device?

Is there a term that describes the act of giving tangible qualities to an intangible noun? I stumbled over a metaphor or I felt sadness condense on my skin The first one might just be "figure ...
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1answer
656 views

Expect a dog: figurative meaning [closed]

What does this mean? I stumbled across it here: "If the design requires a million trips to the server, expect a dog." (The last sentence in the paragraph titled Efficiency.)
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1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of these two sentences in David Copperfield?

There are two sentences in David Copperfield that I don't quite understand, with regards to their (possible) figurative meaning. Chapter XIII: [...] a muslin curtain partly undrawn in the middle, ...
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3answers
621 views

Literally vs. figuratively: how literally is literally? [closed]

I'm sensitive to the fact that in light of recent events, the example discussed in this question may be unsettling to some. For that, I apologize, but I cannot think of an effective alternative. In ...
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2answers
11k views

What's the figurative meaning of “the end of the line”?

Leaving aside the strong sexual connotations of the lyrics of Pulp's song "This Is Hardcore", I was wondering what is the figurative meaning of the expression the author used: "This is the end of ...
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1answer
728 views

What does “Hungarian” mean here? [closed]

I think it’s a figurative usage as a reminder of blood, but not for sure. Why is the word Hungarian used here? (He is a professional pianist who holds lessons open to the public.) When I told him ...
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3answers
3k views

Is this an instance of personification or is it a simile?

I've been sometimes a little confused on how direct personification must be. For example, consider the following phrase used to describe a river: Like a snake it winds through the craggy ...