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Metaphor, Metonymy, Simile, Personification


A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object.

Metaphor is a type of analogy and is closely related to other rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance including allegory, hyperbole, and simile.

Ex: Her home was a prison!

As You Like It:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
(William Shakespeare, As You Like It)

Do you think only literary stalwarts make use of metaphor sentences? You are mistaken as the common man also makes use of metaphor quite regularly even if unknowingly. Here are some examples.

✔ It is raining cats and dogs.

✔ She is the apple of my eye.

✔ He has a heart of gold.

✔ A light in a sea of darkness.

✔ The noise is music to her ears.

✔ He swam in the sea of diamonds.

✔ Authority is a chair, it needs legs to stand up.

✔ You had better pull your socks up.

✔ She is drowning in the sea of love.

✔ Each episode narrated in the book is a slice-of-life snapshot of the protagonist.

✔ Life is a mere dream, a fleeting shadow on a cloudy day.

✔ Life has a tendency to come back and bite you.

✔ He is my East and my West, my compass.



Metonymy is a figure of speech that uses a phrase that is indicative of, and associated to, an actual concept. The actual term is substituted by a word or a phrase that refers to the concept that is being spoken about. For instance, when you go to a bar and order a drink, instead of asking for a beer, you may directly ask for a Budweiser. Here, you are using the product name to refer to the product. As such, you are using a type of metonymy. In order to understand this better, here's a look into some more examples of metonymy.

He writes a fine hand. This is indicative of the fact that someone has a good handwriting.

Fox News has always maintained... Here Fox News is used is a collective term for its team members.

As the bullet pierced his chest, I watched the life flow out of him. The term life has been used to refer to blood, as blood is integral to the human body and is therefore symbolic of life.

She is the shoulder I always cry on. This commonly used phrase is a great example of metonymy. It refers to a whole as a part, as in fact, it is the person herself who is a great listener of others' woes.

The blueberry pie wants to see the chef. This is what you will commonly hear in restaurants, as waiters and waitresses refer to their customers by their orders, providing yet another great example of metonymy.

So we have established that metonymy is used as a means of 'reference' in oral and written language, beyond which it also provides a clear understanding of this reference. We probably don't realize it but we use this figure of speech in our daily lives all the time. Even if we are unfamiliar with the concept of metonymy, if someone spoke to us using this figure of speech, we would be able to understand it clearly because of the reference that has been used.


A simile is a figure of speech that directly compares two different things by using 'like' (A is like B.).

Other possibilities are for example:

A is (not) like B

A is more/less than B

A is as … as B

A is similar to B

A is …, so is B

A does …, so does B

Similes can be found just about anywhere; from the printed word to oral conversation; in language, literature, and music. A simile is an analogy that compares two things that are alike in one way. To help you identify a simile, know that the words “like” or “as” are always used.

Well-known similes are:

“cute as a kitten,” comparing the way someone looks to the way a kitten looks

“as busy as a bee” comparing someone’s level of energy to a fast-flying bee

"as snug as a bug in a rug" comparing someone who is very cozy to how comfortable a bug can be in a rug

"as happy as a clam" comparing someone's happiness to the contentment of a clam

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." comparing the uncertainty of life to the uncertainty of choosing a chocolate from a box

"as agile as a monkey" implying someone can move as well as a monkey does

"as black as coal" comparing the color of something dark to the very-dark coal color

"as blind as a bat" indicating that the person cannot see any better than a bat can



Personification can be described as a figure of speech in which an inanimate object is personified, by attributing human traits and qualities to it. In other words, whenever emotions, desires, sensations, physical gestures and speech are stated in context of non-living things, personification is said to have taken place. Through the technique, we describe lifeless things as human. The concept of personification is commonly used in poetry, where things are often described as having feelings. It is also widely used in fiction and children’s literature, though fiction is not likely to stay focused on the personified object for long.
Personification is believed to be one of the most potent tools of literature. The technique makes it possible to describe something, which may be inexplicable otherwise. As such, the effectiveness of personification has been long recognized. It makes it easier to imagine a particular thing or object by creating its picture in the mind. It enables the reader to relate to the subject and imagine how a lifeless thing would have behaved, had it been human and able to emote. However, using the right description at the right time is the key to meaningfully personify anything. Below given are some examples of personification, which will help you to understand the concept in depth.
Examples of Personification
  • Fear knocked on the door. Faith answered. There was no one there. - Proverb
  • And like the flowers beside them chill and shiver, Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone - Robert Frost
  • Earth felt the wound; and Nature from her seat, Sighing, through all her works, gave signs of woe. - John Milton
  • My computer hates me.
  • The camera loves me.
  • Art is a jealous mistress.
  • Wind yells while blowing.
  • Opportunity knocked on the door.
  • The sun greeted me this morning.
  • Snow had wrapped a white blanket over the city.
  • Time never waits for anyone.
  • Trees were dancing with the wind.
  • The radio stopped singing and continued to stare at me.
  • The picture in that magazine shouted for attention.
  • Plants were suffering from the intense heat.
  • The flowers were crying for my attention.
  • Sun was playing hide and seek, amidst the clouds.
  • The car winked at me.
  • The lightning lashed out with anger.
  • The moon seemed to smile at me from the sky.
  • The sky was full of dancing stars.
  • The flowers begged for water.
  • The wind screamed as it raced around the house.
  • The house was lazy and unkempt.
  • The bit chewed into the horse’s mouth.
  • Lightning danced across the sky.

17 февраля 2013, 15:18



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