Figurative Language

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Figurative Language – Whenever you describe something by comparing it to something else, you are using figurative language.

Simile – A simile uses the words “like” or “as” to compare one object or idea with another. Example: busy as a bee

Metaphor – compares two things without using “like” or “as.” A metaphor states a fact or draws a verbal picture by the use of comparison. Example: It’s a sauna in here!

Oxymoron – a rhetorical figure in which opposite or contradictory terms are combined.

Figurative Language clips (Will Ferrell)

Alliteration – The repetition of the same initial letter, sound, or group of sounds in a series of words. Example: She sells sea shells by the sea shore.

Personification – A figure of speech in which human characteristics are given to animals or objects. Example: As I was reading, the words on the page jumped out and grabbed me.

Hyperbole – An exaggeration that is so dramatic that no one would believe the statement is true. Tall tales are hyperboles. Example: I’m so hungry, I could eat a cow!

Idiom – An expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements; or in other words, an expression that cannot be understood literally. Example: Kick the bucket; hang one's head; driving me up a wall.

Onomatopoeia – The use of a word to describe or imitate a natural sound or the sound made by an object or an action. Example: snap crackle pop

Other Examples of Figurative Language:

Cliche – An expression that has been used so often that it has become trite and sometimes boring. Example: One in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Allusion - An allusion is a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work or work of art. For example:

It has rained so long, it seems as though it has rained for 40 days and nights. (This is reference to Noah's Arc which is a well-known event.)

Another example of an allusion would be "The girl's love of sweets was her Achilles heel," referencing the warrior in Greek mythology, Achilles, who could only be harmed if something hit his heel because he was dipped in magic water as baby when his mother held him by a heel. Achilles' only weakness is his heel, so an Achilles heel reference means a downfall or weakness, in this example a weakness for sweets.

Andy Warhol, a 20th-century American artist commented about the explosion of media coverage by saying, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Today, when someone receives a great deal of media attention for something fairly trivial, and he or she is said to be experiencing his or her “15 minutes of fame,” the allusion is to Andy Warhol's famous saying.

The phrase “Catch-22” is also a commonly used allusion. This phrase comes from a novel by Joseph Heller. Catch-22 is set on a U.S. Army Air Force base in World War II. “Catch-22” refers to a regulation that states an airman’s request to be relieved from flight duty can only be granted if he is judged to be insane. However, anyone who does not want to fly dangerous missions is obviously sane, thus, there is no way to avoid flying the missions.

She has a face that can launch a thousand ships. This is reference to Helen of Troy, for who the Trojan War was fought. Legend has it that over one thousand ships were sent from Sparta to Troy in order to reclaim Helen, who was renowned for her beauty.

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