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


A laconic speech – a concise, pithy, epigrammatic speech


To look to one’s laurels – to take care not to lose one’s place; to guard against defeat by a rival

To win laurels – to gain distinction or glory in a contest

To rest on one’s laurels – to retire from active life after gaining distinction or glory in the field of sports, athletics etc


To smell of the lamp – to show signs of strenuous preparation for an examination or a speech etc


To go to law – to take legal proceedings

To take the law into one’s hands – to try to gain revenge or satisfaction by force, and without recourse to the law courts


To take a leaf out of one’s book – to imitate, to follow the example of another

To turn over a new leaf – to change one’s mode of life or conduct for the better


Look before you leap – think before acting


To be on one’s last legs – to be on the verge of ruin

To stand on one’s own legs – to depend entirely on one’s own resources, to be independent


To give the lie to – to prove to be false

A white lie – an excusable untruth

Let sleeping dogs lie – Do not recall matters which are likely to cause pain or grief or embarrassment to those concerned


To bring to light – to reveal, to disclose, to bring to public notice

To come to light – to become known

To see the light – to understand; to be converted

To throw some light upon – to explain

To make light of – to treat slightly; to disregard


A Lilliputian – a pygmy; a very short person


Hard lines– a hard lot to be in an extremely unenviable position

To read between the lines – to detect the hidden meaning


The lion’s share – the largest part; almost the whole

To beard the lion in his den – to defy a tyrant in his own domain; to resist openly on who is generally feared

To twist the lion’s tail – to insult or provoke someone of power


Lock, stock and barrel – the whole of everything


Before long – soon; in a short while

In the long run – eventually

The long and short of it – everything summed up in a few words


Look before you leap – Think carefully before acting

To look down upon – to spurn, despise, or think someone inferior


To leave in the lurch – to desert someone still in difficulties

Figurative Expressions Index

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