Figurative Language

 

FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE

When you complete this tutorial, you will recognize:

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Onomatopoeia
Alliteration
Hyperbole
Similes
Personification
Metaphors
Analogies
Euphemisms

 

Definition

Figurative language is a tool that an author employs to help the reader visualize what is happening in a story or poem. Some common types of figurative language are: Onomatopoeia, Alliteration, Hyperbole, Simile, Personification, Metaphor, Personification, Analogy, Euphemism. This tutorital will provide clear definitions and examples of each. There are also links to other sites that you will find helpful.

Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates the sound it represents.

 

For example, when you rattle a jar of dry beans ... the word 'rattle' describes the sound, and it makes the sound when you say the word. Similarly, a balloon will pop ... the word 'pop' makes the sound the balloon does.

Examples of Sound Words (PDF)

Alliteration

Alliterationis figurataive language that emphasizes through the repetition of initial consonant letters (or sounds)

in two or more different words across successive sentences, clauses, or phrases.

"I think I need a bigger box." -- Taco Bell Commercial


Listen to Some Examples! 

Hyperbole

Hyperbole is figurative language that exaggerates. Persons often use expressions such as "I nearly died laughing," "I was hopping mad," and "I tried a thousand times." Such statements are not literally true, but people make them to sound impressive or to emphasize something, such as a feeling, effort, or reaction.

"So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address

Listen to Some Examples!

Read More Examples

SIMILE

 A simile is a comparison using words "like" or "as." It usually compares two dissimilar objects.

"A Republic whose history, like the path of the just, is as the shininglight that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."

-- William Jennings Bryan

Listen to Some Examples!

 

METAPHOR

A metaphor states that one thing is something else. It is a comparison, but it does NOT use like or as to make the comparison.

For example: Her hair is silk. The sentence is comparing (or stating) that hair is silk.

 

"Why this country is a shining city on a hill."

-- Mario Cuomo, 1984 Democratic National Convention Address

Listen to Some Examples!

 

Analogy

 Analogy: A kind of extended metaphor or long simile in which an explicit comparison is made between two things (events, ideas, people, etc) for the purpose of furthering a line of reasoning or drawing an inference; a form of reasoning employing comparative or parallel cases.

Ex: "Withdrawal of U.S. troops will become like salted peanuts to the American public; the more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded." -- Henry Kissinger, Memo to President Richard Nixon, 10 September 1969.

"I look at this as being in the form of a house...and the students are the foundation, and the teachers are the walls, and the roof itself is the school. And we know that if you have a weak foundation, the walls and the roof can't be supported. Therefore, it crumbles."

-- Northwestern State University student Jason Madison, Student's should 'come first' address

Listen to Some Examples!

Personification

Personification: giving human qualities to animals or objects.

 

"Once again, the heart of America is heavy. The spirit of America weeps for a tragedy that denies the very meaning of our land."

Listen to Some Examples

Euphemism

Euphemismstransform an unpleasant, distasteful or repulsive expression into more socially acceptable terms.

 

Will:  "We're going to steal the ship? That ship?

Jack:  "Commandeer. We're going to commandeer that ship. Nautical term."

-- delivered by Johnny Depp & Orlando Bloom (from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

Listen to Some Examples! 

Summary 

  Figurative language: a tool that an author employs (or uses) to help the reader visualize (or see) what is happening in a story or poem. Some common types of figurative language are: simile, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia, idiom, puns, and sensory language. Below are some ways to introduce these concepts to your class and some activities. There are also links to other sites for more help.

Onomatopoei is a word that imitates the sound it represents.

Alliteration : figurataive language that emphasizes through the repetition of initial consonant letters (or sounds)

in two or more different words across successive sentences, clauses, or phrases.

Hyperbole: figurative language that exaggerates. Persons often use expressions such as "I nearly died laughing," "I was hopping mad," and "I tried a thousand times." Such statements are not literally true, but people make them to sound impressive or to emphasize something, such as a feeling, effort, or reaction.

Simile: is a comparison using words "like" or "as." It usually compares two dissimilar objects.

Metaphor: states that one thing is something else. It is a comparison, but it does NOT use like or as to make the comparison.


Analogy: a kind of extended metaphor or long simile in which an explicit comparison is made between two things (events, ideas, people, etc) for the purpose of furthering a line of reasoning or drawing an inference; a form of reasoning employing comparative or parallel cases.

Personification: a figure of speech which represents abstractions or inanimate objects with human qualities, including physical, emotional, and spiritual; the application of human attributes or abilities to nonhuman entities.

Euphemisms: transform an unpleasant, distasteful or repulsive expression into more socially acceptable terms.

 

 

 

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