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

Machiavellian policy:

Machiavellian policy - A policy in which any means, however unscrupulous or treacherous, may be employed to achieve the end


Malapropism -A grotesque misuse of words (From Mrs. Malapropos in Sheridan’s “The Rivals".)

Marines :

Tell it to the marines – I don’t believe your story


Not up to the mark – not measuring up to a required standard

To make one’s mark – to distinguish oneself; succeed brilliantly

To be beside the mark, to be wide of the mark – to miss the point completely


A martinet – a very strict disciplinarian

From Jean Martinet- a very strict officer under Louis XIV


By all means – certainly

By any means – in any way possible

By no means - on no account whatever


The laws of the Medes and Persians – unalterable laws


A mercurial temperament - light-hearted, fickle, flighty


A miss is as good as a mile – The result is the same whether a person just misses the mark he has aimed at, or comes nowhere near it


In the arms of Morpheus – asleep


To move heaven and earth – to exert all efforts; to leave no stone unturned


Much of a much ness – almost alike, practically the same

Figurative Expressions Index

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