[Contents] [Index] [Back] [Glossary] [ESL] [<<] [>>]

Choose Your Words: Figurative Language

Figures of speech can enhance your writing and add to imaginative descriptions. Particularly useful are similes and metaphors. A simile is a comparison with both sides stated explicitly, often linked by the word like or as. A metaphor is an implied comparison in which the two sides are indirectly compared. Apt similes and metaphors can help convey to readers exactly what you have in mind. When figurative language is overused, however, it becomes tedious and contrived.

America is not like a blanket — one piece of unbroken cloth, the
same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more
like a quilt — many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven
and held together by a common thread.
— Rev. Jesse Jackson
Some television programs are so much chewing gum for the eyes.
— John Mason Brown
Mixed Metaphors
As she walked onto the tennis court, she was ready to sink or swim.
[Swimming on a tennis court?]

Take care that you do not mix metaphors.

See also
Word Choice Checklist
Dictionary and Thesaurus
Exact Words and Connotations
Tone and Language
Avoiding Biased Language
Avoiding Tired and Pretentious Language