What is figurative language?

Figurative language is essential in certain types of writing to help convey meaning and expression. Figurative language is often necessary to convey the exact meaning in a vivid and artistic manner. If the writer does not create an image in the readers mind, he or she may lose the reader’s attention and holding the attention of the reader is the writer’s goal.

Language using figures of speech such as simile, hyperbole, metaphor, symbolism and personification to form imagery is figurative language. It is used to:

  • increase shock,
  • for novelty,
  • appearance,
  • give illustrative consequences.

Examples of figurative language:

  • A simile is a comparison between two objects using the words “like” or “as.” “Her eyes are like stars!”
  • A hyperbole is a very strong exaggeration. “Her smile is as wide as the ocean!”
  • A metaphor is the comparison between two objects. “His eyes are jewels!”
  • Personification gives an inhuman thing human quality. “The diamonds are jealous of your beauty!”
  • Image is the representation sense. Words, which appeal the senses such as a visual image, could be called a mental picture. “Two trees converged in a velvet meadow.”
  • Symbol is a specific idea or object to represent ideas, values, or ways of life. A symbol is usually something more than what it seems. “The path not seen.”
  • A paradox is a contradiction, which in reality is true. “Where ignorance is joy, it is foolishness to be wise.”
  • Tone is the attitude of style or expression used to write
  • Mood is the emotion the writing delivers to the reader.
  • Alliteration is the repetition of the initial consonant consecutively or within a couple words of each other. “The tiny tot told two tales that totally twisted the truth.” “Two tales were told that spoke silently of the truth of the matter.”
  • Allusion is pointing to something from literature or history to express your point. The word allusion is used to describe this figurative form of language because it is generally a brief, incidental or casual reference. Allusion is never a detailed lengthy description. Allusion is used in hopes of triggering an association to portray a meaning. “He’s a real little Hitler!”

It is the author’s plan to create with words imagery that will cause the reader to smell, hear, taste and feel the story as it is read. Figurative language can make its point without the tedious use of long drawn out sentences. The use of similes and metaphors in writing helps to bring it to life.


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