Figurative Expression

In traditional analysis, words in figurative expressions connote additional layers of meaning, while words in literal expressions denote what they mean according to common or dictionary usage. When the human ear or eye receives the message, the mind must interpret the data to convert it into meaning.

What are Figuratives? On many occassions, the words may not convey the literal meaning of them. They may convey the indirect meanings which may be just the opposite to their literal meanings. Such symbolical and metaphorical meanings are called Figuratives. They contain the figure of speech.

Let us see few hundreds of such Figuratives here.The Figuratives have been arranged in the alphabetical order. Go to the list by clicking that particular page.

Let us see few examples of Figuratives to make the point clear.


The Phrase
Yellow Press does not give the literal meaning that the press which is in Yellow color.On the contrary, it conveys the meaning of The News Papers which publish sensational and unscrupulous stories about crime, sex etc...


The Phrase
In the same boat does not convey the literal meaning. It has the figurative meaning that in the same misfortune or circumstances.

Here is the list of Figurative Expressions beginning with


Eagle – eye – quick to discover; very discerning


To set by the ears – to cause strife or incite to quarrel


To eat one’s words – to apologize, to take back what one has said


A bad egg – a worthless person

To egg on – to spur on to further action

Do not put all your eggs in one basket – Do not stake all your money on a single industry Spread your resources over a variety of transactions


A white elephant – a useless possession which is extremely expensive to keep

(The Kings of Siam when they wished to ruin one of their courtiers presented him with a white elephant, an animal sacred in Siam. The cost of its upkeep was so ruinous that the wealth of the noble soon dwindled away.)


At the eleventh hour – at the last moment


Give him an inch he’ll take an ell – He will abuse his privilege and take great liberties


Elysian happiness – a state of perfect bliss

(From Greek Mythology, Elysium, a region of perfect happiness whither the soul of the virtuous departed.)


At his wit’s end – utterly confounded

At the end of his tether – unable to proceed any farther

Odds and ends – remnants

To make both ends meet – to keep expenses within one’s income

Without end – everlasting


A blot on the escutcheon – a disgrace on the reputation of a family


An exodus – the departure of a large body of people

(From the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses.)


An eye for an eye – tit for tat; to return evil for evil; retaliate

To keep an eye on – to watch carefully

To see eye to eye – to be in complete agreement with the views of another

Figurative Expressions Index

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