“Figurative (adjective): Characterized by or using figures of speech, and hence having meaning beyond the explicit or literal; rhetorical or metaphorical; imaginative or ornate in language; elaborately expressed. Adverb: figuratively; noun: figurativeness.

‘The metonymy red tape for the routine of bureaucracy, synecdoche mercury for thermometer, the antithesis Man proposes and God disposes, the famous Dickens syllepsis (used preferably for humor only) Miss Bolo went home in a flood of tears and a sedan chair…, the allusion He is the Croesus of the community, the analogy Chemical elements are to compounds as letters are to words, and the editor’s innuendo Flames, James, written to an assistant named James, on the margin of a contribution with the request that it be printed entire or consigned to the flames—all are illustrative of the possibilities of figurative language in the cause of economy.’ John B. Opdyke, Say What You Mean”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

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