figurative

[fig-yer-uh-tiv]

adjective

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.

Nearby words

  1. figurant,
  2. figurante,
  3. figurate,
  4. figurate number,
  5. figuration,
  6. figurative language,
  7. figuratively,
  8. figure,
  9. figure and ground,
  10. figure eight

Origin of figurative

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin figūrātīvus (see figure) + -ive; replacing Middle English figuratif < Middle French

Related forms
Can be confusedfiguratively literally virtually (see usage note at literally)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for figurative


British Dictionary definitions for figurative

figurative

adjective

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
Derived Formsfiguratively, adverbfigurativeness, noun

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for figurative

figurative

adj.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper