I must admit, my brain can only do so much! I can say basic construction of sentences or phrases. I have always been hearing hubby is quite good on this. The term metaphor meant in Greek "carry something across" or "transfer," which suggests many of the more elaborate definitions below:
1) A comparison between two things, based on resemblance or similarity, without using "like" or "as".
2) The act of giving a thing a name that belongs to something else.
3) The transferring of things and words from their proper signification to an improper similitude for the sake of beauty, necessity, polish, or emphasis.
4) A device for seeing something in terms of something else.
5) Understanding and experiencing one thing in terms of another.
6) A simile contracted to its smallest dimensions.
** A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison, as in “a sea of troubles” or “All the world's a stage” (Shakespeare).
** One thing conceived as representing another; a symbol: “Hollywood has always been an irresistible, prefabricated metaphor for the crass, the materialistic, the shallow, and the craven” (Neal Gabler).
Examples of metaphors:
"Life is a journey, purposes are destinations, means are routes, difficulties are obstacles, counselors are guides, achievements are landmarks, choices are crossroads"....
"A lifetime is a day, death is sleep; a lifetime is a year, death is winter"..
"Life is a struggle, dying is losing a contest against an adversary"..
"Life is a precious possession, death is a loss"..
"Time is a thief"..
Examples of Dead Metaphors (clichés)
“I'm dead tired"
“She's the apple of my eye”
“He wore me down”
“Strong as an ox”
Examples of Extended Metaphors:
“The winds were ocean waves, thrashing against the trees limbs. The gales remained thereafter, only ceasing when the sun went down. Their waves clashed brilliantly with the water beneath, bringing foam and dying leaves to the shore.”
“The teacher descended upon the exams, sank his talons into their pages, ripped the answers to shreds, and then, perching in his chair, began to digest.”
Examples of Mixed Metaphors:
“Clinton stepped up to the plate and grabbed the bull by the horn.”
“That wet blanket is a loose cannon.”
“The movie struck a spark that massaged the audience's conscience.”
Why Use Metaphors?
- They enliven ordinary language.
People get so accustomed to using the same words and phrases over and over, and always in the same ways, that they no longer know what they mean. Creative writers have the power to make the ordinary strange and the strange ordinary, making life interesting again.
- They are generous to readers and listeners; they encourage interpretation.
When readers or listeners encounter a phrase or word that cannot be interpreted literally, they have to think--or rather, they are given the pleasure of interpretation. If you write "I am frustrated" or "The air was cold" you give your readers nothing to do--they say "so what?" On the other hand, if you say, "My ambition was Hiroshima, after the bombing," your readers can think about and choose from many possible meanings.
- They are more efficient and economical than ordinary language; they give maximum meaning with a minimum of words.
By writing "my dorm is a prison," you suggest to your readers that you feel as though you were placed in solitary, you are fed lousy food, you are deprived of all of life's great pleasures, your room is poorly lit and cramped--and a hundred other things, that, if you tried to say them all, would probably take several pages.
- They create new meanings; they allow you to write about feelings, thoughts, things, experiences, etc. for which there are no easy words; they are necessary.
There are many gaps in language. When a child looks at the sky and sees a star but does not know the word "star," she is forced to say, "Mommy, look at the lamp in the sky!" Similarly, when computer software developers created boxes on the screen as a user interface, they needed a new language; the result was windows. In your poems, you will often be trying to write about subjects, feelings, etc. so complex that you have no choice but to use metaphors.
They are a sign of genius.Or so says Aristotle in Poetics: "[T]he greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor." It is "a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars."