- 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 figuratively
Once a pampered princeling, Yarvi cannot single-handedly succeed (literally or figuratively) and so must become a leader.A Fantasy Titan Invades the YA Kingdom
July 18, 2014
The poor—literally and figuratively—Wheel of Fortune contestant managed to produce three epic fails in a single episode.Taylor Swift’s Surprise, Comic Flight Attendant, and More Viral Videos
The Daily Beast Video
April 20, 2014
He repeated the same trick later on in his speech, starting a riff with "Take Obamacare—not literally, but figuratively."Paul Ryan: Democrats Offer Americans a ‘Full Stomach and an Empty Soul’
March 6, 2014
What are we gonna do with literally—not figuratively—a ton of cocaine?‘Archer,’ the Hilarious Animated Spy Series, Reinvents Itself
January 14, 2014
Ergo, we should call him Scottie in da club because he is figuratively beaming himself up by smoking a blunt in da club.R. Kelly’s Craziest Lyrics From ‘Black Panties,’ Analyzed
December 3, 2013
I also was too indolent--truly, not figuratively; the book was never written.In the Valley
Also figuratively: bld wde sprang (his repute spread afar), 18.Beowulf
I am not a devil, but only a sinful woman who has lost her way, not figuratively but literally!'Father Sergius
The tug at his bits turned Henry's head, literally and figuratively.Cy Whittaker's Place
Joseph C. Lincoln
I'm caught with the goods on, literally, figuratively, and I've got to pay the penalty.Nobody
Louis Joseph Vance
- 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 figuratively
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.