Improve English

Types of Figure of Speech in English: Examples of Figurative Language to Ace English

Word or phrase possessing different meaning from its literal definition is called a figure of speech. Different types of figure of speech...

Avatar Written by Shilpa · 7 min read >
common figures of speech

Word or phrase possessing different meaning from its literal definition is called a figure of speech. Different types of figure of speech in English are used for expressing different meanings. 

This is an integral part of the English language and can be found in poetry, oral literature and even in everyday conversations. For eye-catching purposes and also for adding humour, advertising slogans, newspaper headlines, greeting-card rhymes, captions of images etc use different types of figure of speech.

Figurative speech makes communication even more expressive and creative. These have always been a huge part of the English language and even today also more additions are being done. Let’s check out the different kinds of figures of speech and meaning.

Types of Figurative Speech

Figurative speech is used for conveying difficult meaning and also for bringing clarity in writing. These are used for indirectly stating something which an ordinary sentence can not do. Let’s check the types of figurative speech:

Metaphor

This is used for comparing two unlike or unrelated things or ideas which have some common qualities. Metaphor type of figurative speech is used for representing ideas through comparison.

Example of Common Metaphor Figures of Speech

  • Her father has a heart of stone
  • Love is a battlefield.
  • He went through a rollercoaster of emotions.
  • Chaos is a friend of hers.
  • He was drowning in a sea of grief.
  • The classroom is a zoo.
  • I am a night owl.
  • He behaved like a pig at the dinner party.
  • The stormy sea looks like a raging bull.
  • She was a swan dancing across the stage.
  • Her mother’s eyes were fireflies.
  • The alligator’s teeth are white daggers.
  • The equipment at the laboratory is old dinosaurs.
  • Jenny was a chicken.
  • His dad is a road hog.
  • Our teacher was a dragon.
Some more Example of Metaphor Figure of Speech in English
  • Her kid is a shining star.
  • Donations to the charity were a tsunami.
  • The stadium was a lake after the rain.
  • The sun is a golden ball.
  • The clouds were balls of cotton.
  • That lawn is a green carpet.
  • Her eyes are sparkling diamonds.
  • His temper was a volcano, ready to explode.
  • These two friends are two peas in a pod.
  • Kisses are the flowers of affection.
  • The calm lake in the forest was a mirror.
  • The full moon is a white balloon.

Simile

This figure of speech is used for comparing two unlike or unrelated things or ideas using the words like or as. This type of figurative speech is very much used in daily conversations.

Example of Simile Figures of Speech

  • As tough as rock
  • As hard as nails
  • As hot as hell
  • As innocent as a lamb
  • As sweet as sugar
  • As black as coal
  • As tall as a giraffe
  • As common as dirt
  • As cold as ice
  • As white as a ghost
  • As cute as a kitten
  • As bright as a button
  • As blind as a bat
  • As happy as a clam
  • As light as cotton
  • As shiny as gold.
  • As bold as brass
  • As dry as a bone
  • As deep as the sea.
  • Fits like a sock.
  • Ate like a pig.
  • Sleeping like a dog.
  • As brave as a lion.
Some more Example of Simile Figure of Speech in English
  • As sly as a fox
  • As clear as day.
  • As big as an elephant.
  • As busy as a bee
  • As sharp as a razor.
  • As tough as an old boot.
  • As easy as pie
  • Like a fish out of water
  • Cuts like butter.
  • Moves like a snail.
  • Soft like velvet.
  • Ran like lightning.
  • Teeth like razors.
  • Slept like a baby.
  • As sweet as honey.

Hyperbole

This is an exaggeration created to bring out humour or emphasize a point. These exaggerations are too monstrous to be the truth. This is used for adding depth to a statement.

Example of Hyperbole Figures of Speech

  • Older than the hills.
  • Her brain is the size of a pea
  • I have a million things to do today.
  • I had a ton of work.
  • I’ll die if I can’t buy that perfect diamond ring. 
  • She’s as skinny as a toothpick.
  • The bus passed faster than the speed of light.
  • His new car cost a gazillion dollars.
  • They act as if they are too poor to have two cents to rub together.
  • That dress is so old, the last time he wore it he was riding a dinosaur.
  • They’ve got tons of money.
  • You could have knocked me over with a feather.
  • She is so thin that the wind can carry her.

Example of Hyperbole in Speech

  • “So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address

  • “Please sit down because having produced nine million award shows, I know the producer’s up there saying, ‘Hurry, say thanks fast’.”

-Dick Clark, Daytime Emmy Award Acceptance Address

  • “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of human talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

-President John F. Kennedy, White House dinner honouring Nobel Prize winners

  • “That year, 1967, the Dallas Cowboys had 137 rookies in training camp. Gil Brandt was signing everybody that could walk. Only five made the team that year, and I was one of the five.”

-Larry Rayfield Wright, Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Address

Synecdoche

This is one of the types of figurative speech where one part refers to the whole or vice versa. Let’s look at some of the examples to understand this better

Example of Synecdoche Common Figures of Speech

  • “Glasses” refer to eyewear.
  • “Bread” refers to food
  • “Wheels” refers to a vehicle.
  • “Boots” refers to soldiers.
  • “Sails” is often used to refer to a whole ship.
  • “Bubbly” refers to champagne.
  • “Hired hands” is used to refer to workers.
  • “Head” refers to counting people.
  • In good hands.

Personification

In this type of figurative speech, non-living objects are given human characteristics. Let’s check out some of the examples.

Examples of Personification Figurative Speech

  • Lightning danced across the sky.
  • The car complained as the key was roughly turned in its ignition.
  • The car’s headlights winked at her.
  • The wind howled in the night.
  • The moon is playing hide and seeks with the clouds.
  • My alarm clock yells every morning.
  • My house is a friend who protects me.
  • The last piece of pie is calling me.
  • As if the door protested as it opened slowly.
  • The flowers are begging for water.
  • The stairs groaned as they walked on them.
  • The camera loves her since she is so pretty.
  • The vacuum hums a happy tune while cleaning the floor.
Examples of Personification in Poetry

1. “The night was creeping on the ground!

She crept and did not make a sound.” – James Stephens’ Check.

 

2. “Hey, diddle, diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon;

The little dog laughed

To see such sport,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.” – A popular nursery rhyme

 

3. “The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.” – Carl Sandburg’s The Fog.

Onomatopoeia

This is used to talk about something or some action by imitating the sound related to it. Check the examples to understand it better.

Examples of Onomatopoeia- A Type of Figurative Speech

  • Buzzing bee.
  • The cup fell into the sea with a splash.
  • The bottle fell on the chair with a thump.
  • I couldn’t sleep because of the rustling leaves.
  • We looked at the roaring.
Examples of Onomatopoeia in Literature

1. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

“He saw nothing and heard nothing but he could feel his heart pounding and then he heard the clack on stone and the leaping, dropping clicks of a small rock falling.”

2. Get Me to the Church on Time by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe

“I’m getting married in the morning!

Ding dong! the bells are gonna chime.”

3. The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Hark, hark!

Bow-wow.

The watch-dogs bark!

Bow-wow.

Hark, hark! I hear

The strain of strutting chanticleer

Cry, ‘cock-a-diddle-dow!’”

4. Come Down, O Maid by Alfred Lord Tennyson

“The moan of doves in immemorial elms,

And murmuring of innumerable bees…”

5. The Marvelous Toy by Tom Paxton

“It went zip when it moved and bop when it stopped,

And whirr when it stood still.

I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.”

Also Read : Guide for Better Email Writing in English: Sample Email Writing to Learn the Correct Format

Other Different Types of Figure of Speech with Example

Metonymy

  • Pen as written word.
  • Sword as military aggression.
  • Cradle to the grave.
  • I have never read Shakespeare. – Here it refers to the works of Shakespeare.

Apostrophe

  • He likes the shirt’s colour.
  • Their television’s screen is not as clear as ours.
  • No matter how hard I try, the refrigerator’s switch is not going to work.
  • I like this bag’s shape so I use it the most.

Transferred Epithet- Another type of Figurative Speech

  • She had an unhappy marriage.
  • They had a lovely day.
  • I am having a hectic day.
  • You will have a great day ahead.

Euphemism

  • He has become a little thin on top (bald).
  • Her maid is in the family way (pregnant).
  • We were a little tipsy (drunk).
  • No recruitment for mentally challenged (stupid) people.
  • She is a special child.

Irony

  • His heart is as warm as ice.
  • His hands were as soft as a brick.
  • I wrote a blog about how useless blog writing is.
  • The oil was as cool as burning coal.

Pun- Common Figures of Speech

  • She has been to the dentist many times before so she knows the drill.
  • Grammarians are usually very logical. They have a lot of comma sense.
  • He was reading while sunbathing and that made him well red (read).
  • He was indulged in the thought of how lightning works until it struck him.

Epigram

  • Silence is louder than words.
  • The child is the father of the man. (Wordsworth)

  • Nobody can make you inferior unless you allow them to.
  • Be nice to all, start with the man in the mirror.
  • “Live simply, so that others may simply live.” – Mother Teresa

Antithesis

  • “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” – William Shakespeare.

  • “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.” – Goethe.

  • “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong.

  • “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14.

Oxymoron- A Different Type of Figure of Speech

  • Let us be alone together.
  • By his attitude, it looks like he is growing smaller day by day.
  • There was a small crowd in the market.
  • “I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.” – Oscar Wilde

Litotes

  • You can do it, it’s not rocket science. (it’s simple)
  • She isn’t the brightest bulb in the office. (Somewhat dumb)
  • Make-up was never my cup of tea. (Don’t like make-up)
  • He didn’t deny that it was wrong. (Admitting that it was wrong)

Interrogation- Another Type of Figure of Speech in English

  • To whom shall I handover the papers?
  • Why did they leave so late?
  • Was there any particular reason behind his stomach ache?
  • Would you like some tea or coffee?
  • They’ve been together for a long time, haven’t they?

Exclamation

  • You look gorgeous!
  • Hey! can’t you hear me?
  • Hell no! I had no intention of going there.
  • Wow! I can’t believe that you actually came.

Climax- Common Figures of Speech

  • Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  • Shakespeare, The Passionate Pilgrim

Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good;

A shining gloss that vadeth suddenly;

A flower that dies when first it gins to bud;

A brittle glass that’s broken presently:

A doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower,

Lost, vaded, broken, dead within an hour.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article will give you a clear idea about all figures of speech. After you understand the concept well and become able to identify which figures of speech are called what, then try marking them out whenever you find any. Keep reading books and novels and also keep an eye on this page for more information that will definitely help you learn better English. 

You can also share your thoughts about this article and share which types of figurative speech you use the most in your daily conversations. To share with us just comment in the below box.

Also Read : Simple Past Tense Errors: Here’s Your Guide to Correct English Grammar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *