Metaphor

DEFINITION

A situation in which a word or thing that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison. One thing conceived as representing another; a symbol. One of the basic tropes, along with simile, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, parody, etc., metaphor is most often confused with simile. But simile is specific, as in Robert Burns' "O my love's like a red, red rose," while metaphor is poetic, as in U.S. Grant's "I am a verb." Grant could have said "I am a man of action, like a verb," which would have been a simile; instead he let the reader take the metaphoric leap. A metaphor is like a fragrance that calls up a powerful memory (which is a simile), while a simile lets a metaphor be its umbrella. (So I strain for effect. A lexicographer's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a metaphor?)Quote: "The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor, it is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in [the] dissimilar." Aristotle (384-322 BCE), Greek philosopher. S.H. Butcher, Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art, 1951. "Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed." Anonymous. This is a rule of grammar given a humorous spin. Also see analogy, appropriation, content, genius, incongruity, labyrinth, representation, and simulacrum.

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