[ fig-yer-uh-tiv-lee ]


  1. in a way that involves or invokes a metaphor or figure of speech; metaphorically:

    Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated to remove darkness from our lives both literally and figuratively.

    We figuratively envision personal space as an aura or a soap bubble.

  2. by means of a figure, likeness, or emblem:

    In art and literature, the former kingdom was often figuratively presented as a woman.

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Other Words From

  • non·fig·ur·a·tive·ly adverb
  • sem·i·fig·ur·a·tive·ly adverb
  • un·fig·ur·a·tive·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

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Compare Meanings

How does figuratively compare to similar and commonly confused words? Explore the most common comparisons:

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Example Sentences

With everything burning on Earth, literally and figuratively, Hollywood has turned to space.

And, more often than not, we are also the primary caretakers of our families, literally and figuratively guiding the health care decisions and dollars spent on behalf of our partners, our children, and our parents.

From Fortune

That was true literally — before this week, the Dodgers hadn’t lifted the trophy since 1988, one of the longest droughts in baseball — but also figuratively.

Under that view, it would not have been hard to imagine that humanity would one day bring even Leviathan to its knees, be they figurative or vestigial.

Between unpacking the new supplies and scientific experiments, and welcoming the new crew, there won’t be a whole lot of time to find the leak over the next few weeks, so the pressure is, figuratively, on.

“Mona Iraqi is responsible for 25 families losing their lives,” he said, speaking figuratively.

Our Sun is fairly quiet as stars go, but it does have active times that impact us here on Earth, both figuratively and literally.

Once a pampered princeling, Yarvi cannot single-handedly succeed (literally or figuratively) and so must become a leader.

The poor—literally and figuratively—Wheel of Fortune contestant managed to produce three epic fails in a single episode.

He repeated the same trick later on in his speech, starting a riff with "Take Obamacare—not literally, but figuratively."

It is combined with these consonant elements in order to invite it forward and bring it to a point (figuratively speaking).

The term covenant designating their relation to him as a people is not figuratively applied to it.

Literally and figuratively, their lives seemed to wander through flowery pleasure-paths.

As soon as we returned from the inspection trip, the boss pulled off his coat—figuratively speaking—and rolled up his sleeves.

These characteristics which differentiate beings can therefore be called qualities only figuratively.





figurative languagefigure