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


To mind one’s P’s and Q’s - to be very particular about one’s behavior. (In the old days in the ale house the host used to mark up the pints and quarts consumed by his customers on the wall or a blackboard. It therefore behooved the customer to mid his P (Pints) and Q (Quarts) in order that he did not get overcharged.)


To come to pass – to happen

To pass on – to proceed


To pave the way – to facilitate


To pay the piper – to pay the expens


Parthian shot – a parting word; a sharp retort at the end of a conversation


To cast pearls before swine – to bestow good things upon people who cannot appreciate them


In for a penny, in for a pound – since I am to attempt a little I might as well attempt a lot


To rob Peter to pay Paul – to take what belongs to one person and pay another; to satisfy one person at the expense of another


Petticoat government – to be under the rule of a female, especially a wife or mother


To pick to pieces – to analyze critically


To buy a pig in a poke – to purchase something on mere reputation and without examining it beforehand


To pin one’s faith on – to rely on

Pin money – originally a husband’s allowance to his wife for dress, toilet necessaries, etc… Now a negligible amount


To put one’s hand to the plough – to begin a task earnestly

To plough the sands – to labor uselessly

To plough a lonely furrow – to hold a view opposed to all your associates; to pursue with determination an unusual course of action or branch of study


To make a point of something – to attach special importance to doing Something

To the point – fit; appropriate; relevant


To pooh-pooh an idea – to express contempt for an idea


Any port in a storm – When one is in great difficulty one looks for help from any quarter


To take pot-luck – to share in a meal not specially prepared for guests


The proof of the pudding is in the eating – People are judged by their Actions


To pull down a person – to degrade or humiliate a person

To pull to pieces – to criticize

To pull through – to pass an examination, or succeed in something after a great deal of difficulty

To pull together– to co-operate

To pull strings – to court the favor of highly placed officials in order to Secure remunerative jobs or positions


To feel one’s pulse – to try to find out one’s views or intentions


An empty purse, a light purse – poverty

A heavy purse – wealth or riches

To hold the purse strings – to have control of finance

To make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – to attempt to accomplish great things with inferior materials


Pyrrhic victory – a victory that is as costly as defeat

Figurative Expressions Index

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