The metaphor does not state a likeness; it assumes it
. It is an implied comparison between things essentially different. It never uses introductory words. The metaphor is the commonest of all figures
. We often refer to all figurative language as metaphorical.
Whenever the English language gives a word a new meaning, it becomes, for a time, a metaphor. Metaphors are generally short, consisting of
a single word.
From expressions like "it's raining cats and dogs
" to "table leg
" and "old flame
," everyday speech is full of them. EX.
was a prison
The committee shot
her ideas down
one by one. EX.
into her conversation
It wasn't long before their relationship turned sour
decided to abandon
the project. EX.
Love is a battlefield
The boss was boiling
Good writing practice allows a series of good metaphors, but we must use caution not to use more than one metaphor in a sentence otherwise we begin to sound ridiculous. You also need to be careful to prevent mixing metaphors with literal statements. Do not say, "The strong arm of the law is marching through the land breathing out fire and pestilence
." Readers may laugh at you.
sure each part of a metaphor relates with every other part. Mixed metaphors, which constitute serious errors of writing, result from confusing metaphors in the same sentence or from joining metaphorical language with literal language.
In selecting metaphors avoid trite and worn-out expressions, hackneyed ones, and grotesque ones. Also avoid overdeveloped metaphors, with useless details. They do not help; they hinder.
It is always possible to convert a metaphor into a simile by making the comparison formal, using like
; likewise, you can convert a simile into
a metaphor by dropping like
"A man's life is like an open book."