- of the nature of or involving a figure of speech, especially a metaphor; metaphorical and not literal: The word “head” has several figurative senses, as in “She's the head of the company.”
- metaphorically so called: His remark was a figurative boomerang.
- abounding in or fond of figures of speech: Elizabethan poetry is highly figurative.
- representing by means of a figure or likeness, as in drawing or sculpture.
- representing by a figure or emblem; emblematic.
Origin of figurative
Examples from the Web for figurative
Bauer literally had a Rosebud moment, but may not have had a figurative one.We All Have a Rosebud in Our Pasts
October 15, 2014
No, says the confused C.K, who expected the figurative nature of his statement to be obvious.The Movement for Patient Access to Doctors’ Notes Is Growing
June 2, 2014
Cheshire is less interested in the literal, chromosomal answer than the figurative one.This Week’s Hot Reads: Dec. 2, 2013
Mythili Rao and Thomas Flynn, Mythili Rao, Thomas Flynn
December 2, 2013
In that moment, Will has fully embraced the figurative dark side.In The Good Wife’s Explosive ‘Hitting the Fan,’ That’s Exactly What Happens
October 28, 2013
In a figurative way, palimpsest refers to an object or place that reflects its own history.The Thief of Words: Starling Lawrence
October 11, 2013
But these miscellaneous and figurative forces are not what we are considering.Life: Its True Genesis
R. W. Wright
Plato's account of the soul is partly mythical or figurative, and partly literal.Timaeus
With this figurative expression Mattha settled himself for the drive.The Shadow of a Crime
He clung hard to one—Powell says, with no figurative intention.Chance
It was no figurative expression to say that he kept open house.Jack Hinton
Charles James Lever
- of the nature of, resembling, or involving a figure of speech; not literal; metaphorical
- using or filled with figures of speech
- representing by means of an emblem, likeness, figure, etc
- (in painting, sculpture, etc) of, relating to, or characterized by the naturalistic representation of the external world
Word Origin and History for figurative
late 14c., from Old French figuratif "metaphorical," from Late Latin figurativus, from figurat-, past participle stem of figurare "to form, shape," from figura "a shape, form, figure" (see figure (n.)). Of speech, language, etc., "involving figures of speech," from 1845. Related: Figuratively.