Figurative Language

by Powell

figure language  is a word or phrase that possesses a separate meaning from its literal definition. 

We use figurative language to help the reader better understand what we are trying to describe

Some common figurative language are alliteration, hyperbole, irony, onomatopoeia, personification, pun, simile, metaphor..

alliteration the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. …
  • A good cook could cook as many cookies as a good cook who could cook cookies.
  • Black bug bit a big black bear. …
  • Sheep should sleep in a shed.
  • A big bug bit the little beetle but the little beetle bit the big bug back.

hyperbole language that describes something as better or worse than it really is

  • I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
  • She’s as old as the hills.
  • I walked a million miles to get here.
  • He’s as skinny as a toothpick.
  • She’s as tall as a beanpole.

irony the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

for example, a character stepping out into a hurricane and saying, “What nice weather we’re having!”

  • A fire station burns down.
  • A marriage counselor files for divorce.
  • A pilot has a fear of heights.

Personification is a figure of speech in which an idea or thing is given human attributes and/or feelings or is spoken of as if it were human.

  • Lightning danced across the sky.
  • The wind howled in the night.
  • The van complained as the key was roughly turned in its ignition.
  • Mary heard the last piece of pie calling her name.
  • My alarm clock yells at me to get out of bed every morning.

onomatopoeia the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g. cuckoo, sizzle ).

  • Machine noises—honk, beep, vroom, clang, zap, boing.
  • Animal names—cuckoo, whip-poor-will, whooping crane, chickadee.
  • Impact sounds—boom, crash, whack, thump, bang.
  • Sounds of the voice—shush, giggle, growl, whine, murmur, blurt, whisper, hiss.

Pun make a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word.

Examples of homophonic puns are:

  • A bicycle can’t stand on its own because it is two-tired.
  • A pessimist’s blood type is always B-negative.
  • Reading while sunbathing makes you well-red.

simile the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g. as brave as a lion ).

 examples of similes

  • You were as brave as a lion.
  • They fought like cats and dogs.
  • He is as funny as a barrel of monkeys.
  • This house is as clean as a whistle.
  • He is as strong as an ox.
  • Your explanation is as clear as mud.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or action is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them

  • Her words cut deeper than a knife.
  • I feel the stench of failure coming on.
  • I’m drowning in a sea of grief.
  • I’m feeling blue. …
  • he’s going through a rollercoaster of emotions

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