What is a metaphor?

A metaphor can help you describe one object by comparing it to something else. Let’s take at some metaphor examples and how they work!

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Author
Liam Forsyth

Published
November 17, 2023

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor can help you describe one object by comparing it literally to something else. Let’s take at some metaphor examples and how they work!

icon of a star with a smiley face

Author
Liam Forsyth

Published
Nov 17, 2023

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor can help you describe one object by comparing it literally to something else. Let’s take at some metaphor examples and how they work!

icon of a star with a smiley face

Author
Liam Forsyth

Published
Nov 16, 2023

Key takeaways

  • A metaphor is used to compare one object to another
  • Metaphors can add description, or exaggerate the traits of the subject
  • There are several different types of metaphors

Sometimes it can be hard to picture exactly what something looks like. But, it may be easy to picture something far more common in your imagination. This is where the direct comparison of a metaphor can help!

What is a metaphor?

Just like a simile, a metaphor is used to suggest something is like something else.

However, the difference is that they don’t just help us say something is like something else, we say it is something else.

Some metaphors are so vivid that they can really capture the reader’s imagination!

They can also add emphasis to make something stand out. For example, if a lesson felt like went by slowly, just how slowly did it go? Well, the lesson was a snail crawling through the day, of course!

This emphasis helps make a clear image for the reader, and it can create some funny images.

Metaphor definition

Let’s break down the above to answer, ‘what exactly is a metaphor?’.

When using metaphors, the two items that are being compared must be different, but they’ll share the same traits. They might both be fast and funny, for example! 

Therefore, a metaphor definition for KS2 could be written as:

Comparing two things that look, act or seem the same by saying that one of them is the other.

Metaphor examples

  •  “The exam was a dream.” – used to suggest the exam went well. It couldn’t actually have been a dream.
  • “I was a couch potato last weekend.” – used to suggest that the person in question had a lazy weekend. They’re not a potato, but neither of them move much!
  • “That film was dynamite!” – The film didn’t explode, how could it? Rather, this suggests that the film was very exciting.
  • “It’s raining cats and dogs.” – Of course, cats and dogs don’t actually fall from the sky, but this gives the image of some very large raindrops and therefore heavy rain.

Explore metaphors with DoodleEnglish

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Designed by teachers, it creates each child a unique work programme tailored to their needs, boosting their confidence and skills in English. Try it for free today!

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Types of metaphor

Now that we’ve looked at some metaphor examples, we can dig a little deeper into the different types of metaphors and the differences between them.

There are several different types of metaphor; they can change the tone, set the atmosphere or simply allow the reader’s imagination to run wild. Let’s take a look!

Extended metaphor

This type of metaphor is simply longer, or it might contain more than one metaphor joined together with a conjunction.

Here’s an example of an extended metaphor:

  • “The leaves were dancers and singers in the wind which was a ticklish feather.” – Here, the leaves are compared to multiple things they cannot be, and the wind can’t even be seen!

Implied metaphor

With implied metaphors a comparison is made, but not as literally as in other cases.

Here’s an example of an implied metaphor:

  • “The children shot out of the classroom.” – This implies the children are speeding bullets heading for the playground!

Implied metaphors can be used without even realising it. If you go charging down the street, you’re being compared to a bull or a rhino, but you aren’t really one at all.

Dead metaphor

Perhaps the most interesting type of metaphor is the dead metaphor. It implies the metaphor has become dead!

The comparison has been used so much that the metaphor meaning has just become accepted as the meaning of the phrase.

Let’s look at an example of a dead metaphor:

  • “I’m falling head over heels for him.” – This is used to compare doing a roly-poly to loving someone. Now the meaning is to start loving something deeply. You might fall head over heels with your new puppy, for example.

Summary

Superb! You now have a good understanding of what a metaphor is. Give them a try in your next piece of writing. Good luck!

If you’d like to explore other features of English, be sure to check out our English app? It’ll give you the resources to consolidate the knowledge and skills you need to be successful!

FAQs about metaphors

A metaphor is a phrase used to describe an item or action that isn’t literally applicable.

For example, “it’s raining cats and dogs!”.

There are many different types of metaphor, including:

  • Extended metaphor
  • Implied metaphor
  • Dead metaphor
  • Complex metaphor

Metaphors can help to explain tricky concepts and can also create images in a reader’s mind, helping with storytelling!

Screenshot 2023-10-13 at 16.29.14

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