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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 Figurative Expression 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 be at daggers drawn – to be deadly enemies


To have the sword of Damocles hanging over one’s head – to be in imminent danger of losing one’s life; to live in constant fear of some impending danger


A Daniel – an imperial judge (Shakespeare, “Merchant of Venice": Daniel I-VI.)


A dare-devil – a fearless, reckless man


Up to date – recent, modern

Out of date – obsolete


In Davy Jones’s locker – drowned, at the bottom of the sea


He has seen better days – He was once prosperous

Evil days – a period of misfortune

To gain or win the day – to be victorious

Halcyon days – a time when there is peace and happiness in the land


Dead beat – quite exhausted

Dead broke – penniless

To run dead heat – a race in which the contestants came in together

A dead letter – something which no longer exists

To step into dead men’s shoes – to come into an inheritance, to succeed someone who died?


To give the devil his due – give a person credit for his good qualities however worthless he may be

Go to the devil – Be off

Devil’s playthings – playing cards

Devil’s bones – dice To be between the devil and the deep sea – to be faced with two dangerous situations, each of which is to be dreaded as much as the other


To be on the horns of a dilemma – to be in such a position that it is difficult to decide what to do


Give a dog a bad name and hang him – Once a person loses his reputation, he is likely to be blamed for the misdeeds f others

To be a dog in the manger – to prevent others from using what one cannot use oneself, to be selfish

Every dog has his day – Sooner or later, everyone has his share of good fortune


To be in the doldrums – to be in low spirits to be out of sorts


The Dole – money given in charity, and also allowances to the unemployed

To dole out – to give out in small quantities


To darken one’s door – to pay a visit to one’s house


Ups and downs – varying fortunes; changes and chances of life

Down and out – penniless, ruined


Draconian legislation – very severe laws

(From Draco, an Athenian legislator, whose laws were extremely severe.)


To draw the long bow – to relate fantastic stories

To draw the line at – to refuse to go beyond a certain limit


To throw dust in one’s eyes – to try to deceive someone


Dutch courage – bravery induced by alcoholic liquors

Figurative Expression Index

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