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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


It never rains but it pours – Good fortune is usually the forerunner of great Prosperity, similarly a streak of bad luck is just the beginning of great misfortune


To be like a drowned rat – to be soaking wet

To smell a rat – to suspect something


Days of reckoning – the time when one will have to settle accounts, or to give some account of one’s work


To break the record – to surpass all previous achievements in competition, Especially in the field of sports


Red flag – the symbol of revolution

To be caught red-handed – to be caught in the very act of committing a crime

To draw a red-herring across the trail – to turn attention from the real issue by irrelevant discussion

Red-letter day – a memorable day, a day of great Importance

Red-tap – a term used to describe the delay in attending to matters in government departments because of official routine and formality


To give rein to – to allow a person to have his own way

To take the reins – to assume command


Rome was not built in a day – It takes time to accomplish anything really Worthwhile (Rome was the capital city of the great Roman Empire.)


To give (a person) plenty of rope – to allow a person to act as he pleases in order that he may commit some blunder

To know the ropes – to be thoroughly acquainted with the particular Situation


To rough It – to put up with inconveniences and hardships

Rough and ready – hastily prepared, without neatness or adornment

Rough and tumble – in a disorderly manner

To ride roughshod over – to treat in a high-handed fashion


To win the rubber – to win the majority of a given set of matches in a tournament, e.g. cricket


To cross the Rubicon – to take a decisive step from which there is no turning back; to cast the die

Figurative Expressions Index

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