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


Below the salt – in the company of the less distinguished

To take with a grain of salt – to accept with doubt or misgiving


To be a Good Samaritan – to be kind and compassionate to someone in distress


What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander – The conditions are the same for all parties concerned


To pay off old scores – to have one’s revenge for an offence of long standing


To be between Scylla and Charybdis – to be faced with two dangerous alternative, so that escape from one will involve ruin from the other


To see daylight – to begin to understand

To see red – to be mad with anger


A close shave – a narrow escape


To take silk – to become a Q.C. (Queen’s Counsel)


A skeleton in the cupboard, the family skeleton – a dreadful domestic secret


By the skin of the teeth – very narrowly

To save one’s skin – to escape harm or injury


A snake in the grass – an enemy who strikes under cover


A Spartan life – a life of extreme self – discipline, aimed at promoting health of body and mind


To call a spade a spade – to be brutally frank, out-spoken, blunt in speech

Spick and span:

Spick and span – smart and clean


To throw in the sponge – to acknowledge defeat


To steal a march on-to go ahead of,to go beforehand


A rolling stone gather no moss – Unstable people never achieve anything Worthwhile, people who cannot settle down to business are never successful


A month of Sundays – an indefinitely long period


One swallow does not make a summer – It is unreliable to base one’s conclusions on only a single test or incident

Figurative Expressions Index

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