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metaphor

[met-uh-fawr, -fer]
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noun
  1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.”Compare mixed metaphor, simile(def 1).
  2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.
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Origin of metaphor

1525–35; < Latin metaphora < Greek metaphorá a transfer, akin to metaphérein to transfer. See meta-, -phore
Related formsmet·a·phor·i·cal [met-uh-fawr-i-kuh l, -for-] /ˌmɛt əˈfɔr ɪ kəl, -ˈfɒr-/, met·a·phor·ic, adjectivemet·a·phor·i·cal·ly, adverbmet·a·phor·i·cal·ness, nounhy·per·met·a·phor·ic, adjectivehy·per·met·a·phor·i·cal, adjectivenon·met·a·phor·ic, adjectivenon·met·a·phor·i·cal, adjectivenon·met·a·phor·i·cal·ly, adverbsem·i·met·a·phor·ic, adjectivesem·i·met·a·phor·i·cal, adjectivesem·i·met·a·phor·i·cal·ly, adverbsub·met·a·phor·ic, adjectivesub·met·a·phor·i·cal, adjectivesub·met·a·phor·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedmetaphor simile
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for metaphorical

metaphor

noun
  1. a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action that it does not literally denote in order to imply a resemblance, for example he is a lion in battleCompare simile
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Derived Formsmetaphoric (ˌmɛtəˈfɒrɪk) or metaphorical, adjectivemetaphorically, adverbmetaphoricalness, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin, from Greek metaphora, from metapherein to transfer, from meta- + pherein to bear
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 metaphorical

adj.

1550s, from metaphor + -ical. Related: metaphorically.

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metaphor

n.

late 15c., from Middle French metaphore (Old French metafore, 13c.), and directly from Latin metaphora, from Greek metaphora "a transfer," especially of the sense of one word to a different word, literally "a carrying over," from metapherein "transfer, carry over; change, alter; to use a word in a strange sense," from meta- "over, across" (see meta-) + pherein "to carry, bear" (see infer).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

metaphorical in Culture

metaphor

The comparison of one thing to another without the use of like or as: “A man is but a weak reed”; “The road was a ribbon of moonlight.” Metaphors are common in literature and expansive speech. (Compare simile.)

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.