Sep 10, 2010

Metaphors Anyone?

by Joan Sowards

The Gospel Doctrine lesson this week (#34) discusses how Hosea used metaphors. One example is, "The children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea." (Hosea 1:10)

I figure I’m fascinated by metaphors because I have no natural talent for creating one. The more I study, they really don't seem hard. Anyone can learn to write metaphors, but I still struggle.

“Language is fossil poetry which is constantly being worked over for the uses of speech. Our commonest words are worn-out metaphors.”

–James Bradstreet Greenough and George Lyman Kittredge

Here are some common worn-out metaphor phrases:

A stew pigeon

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

A thumbnail sketch

Wet behind the ears

That hits the nail on the head.

Each provide a great visual for our readers, but are overused. Our challenge as writers is to come up with new and fresh metaphors.

The dictionary defines a metaphor as is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable, i.e. “I had fallen through a trapdoor of depression.”

Here is a mind-stretching metaphor exercises: Without stopping to consider the words in the two lists below, (there are two lists, but they refuse to line up) connect each word in the right hand column to a word in the left hand column. (No using a Sharpie on your computer screen!) Then think of what the two connected words have in common and write a metaphor. (In the metaphor above, the two nouns are trapdoor and depression.)

skinny girl water slide

autumn leaves bed skirt ruffles

computer screen wedding bouquet

black and white movie clothesline

old shoes bubble bath

It can be a lot of fun, but it takes some thinking.

If you’d like, leave a metaphor in your comments below--and have fun writing!


  1. Love this. I must say though my creativity jar is empty today. I'll check back later and see what I can do.:)

  2. I really like metaphors and similies. Great post, but I won't embarass myself by trying to come up with some right now.

  3. Nan's blouse and skirt hung as if pinned to a backyard clothesline.

    Autumn leaves on the tress a wedding bouquet for mother nature.

    Not poetic like your examples. Oh, well it was fun to play along.

  4. Thanks for the metaphors, Susan--and your comments, ladies.

  5. Her old bed skirt ruffles were autumn leaves against her ankles.

    My old shoes are a bubble bath without water.

    That's as good as it gets today. My brain goes for the simile -metaphors are a good stretching exercise!


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