‘I am feeling blue’ is a sentence you might hear from a person who is feeling sad. Similarly, ‘He is the black sheep of the family’ describes a person who is different from others. These expressions have one thing in common: a situation is equated to a real thing, although it is not actually that thing. Such expressions are known as metaphors.
A metaphor is one among the many figures of speech used in English. A figure of speech can be a phrase, a word, a repetition of words, a special arrangement of words or even a phrase. Whatever form it takes it may not mean exactly what the words mean.
A metaphor is one kind of figure of speech where a phrase or a word is used on an action or object - not literally but in a manner to signify similarity or resemblance. A metaphor is a powerful tool that writers or speakers employ to drive home their message in a much more resourceful and memorable way.
You may have heard Indian cricket commentator, Ravi Shastri, describe a player’s shot in these words:
‘Virat Kohli took the ball on the rise and smashed it. The ball WAS A BULLET as it reached the boundary in no time.’
You will notice that the words in capitals are a metaphor because they describe the speed of the ball, equating it to the speed of a bullet. This comparison by the use of the metaphor gives the reader or listener a more graphic description of the shot than just saying ‘he hit a six.’
Metaphors help to make English a funny, witty and inventive language and it will be to your advantage to learn all about metaphors to help you write and speak better. Run through this quiz and feast on the banquet of metaphors.