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Types of Figurative Language


Figurative language is a word or phrase that departs from everyday literal language for the sake of comparison, emphasis, clarity, or freshness. Review these types of figurative language to use them more effectively in your prose.

1. Metaphor

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Metaphors, or comparisons of two things that do not use "like" or "as," can be highly effective tools, so it's worthwhile boning up on them. Study examples of metaphor in everyday speech and in literature, learn about the dangers of mixed metaphors, and create your own metaphors.

2. Simile

Similes function much as metaphors do, but using "like" or "as." Find more examples from literature of this form of figurative language here.

3. Synecdoche

If you've ever called a businessman a "suit," called someone's car a "set of wheels," or referred to a "hired hand," you've used synecdoche, or figurative language that stands for someone or something else.

4. Hyperpole

Anytime you exaggerate or overstate a situation, you're employing hyperbole. Read an example from a writer who used this type of figure of speech to produce a lively and comic effect.

5. Puns

From Shakespeare to knock-knock jokes, our literature depends heavily on this figure of speech, which Samuel Johnson called the lowest form of humor. Do you agree? Some punny examples will help you decide.

6. Personification

What does an "Ode to a Grecian Urn" have in common with Because of Winn-Dixie? Read on.
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