Figurative Language

Figurative Language

For centuries, poets and laypeople alike have used beautiful language to celebrate nature, compliment lovers, and launch the mundane into the mystical. Figurative language is writing which appeals to the senses. Rather than operating on logic or literalness, figurative language makes unique connections based on connotation, sound, and construction of words and phrases.


A metaphor is a direct and vivid comparison between two things usually considered distinct or unrelated. Metaphors discover the connections between unique things and emphasize their similarities poetically without being taken literally. Here are a few examples of metaphor:

  • Her smile is the sun.

  • He’s a black sheep.

  • All the world’s a stage.

  • The snow is a white blanket.

  • He is a shining star.

  • Her long hair was a flowing golden river.

  • Tom's eyes were ice as he stared at her.

  • The children were flowers grown in concrete gardens.

  • Kisses are the flowers of affection.

  • The falling snowflakes are dancers.

  • The calm lake was a mirror.

I. What is a Simile?

Simile (pronounced sim--uh-lee) is a literary term where you use “like” or “as” to compare two different things and show a common quality between them. A simile is different from a simple comparison in that it usually compares two unrelated things. For example, “She looks like you” is a comparison but not a simile. On the other hand, “She smiles like the sun” is a simile, as it compares a woman with something of a different kind- the sun.

  • 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.

  • Watching the show was like watching grass grow.


Hyperbole is a remarkably exaggerated statement or idea meant to be taken figuratively rather than literally. Hyperbole exaggerates certain elements of ideas or things for comedic or dramatic effects. Here are a few examples of hyperbole:

  • I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!

  • That was the best performance I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

  • I’d kill for a glass of Coca-Cola.

  • I’ll die if I can’t get Starbucks