metaphorically/figuratively

Discussion in 'English Only' started by quietdandelion, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    Homesweethome
    Formosa/Chinese
    I think people generally say "a slap in the face". It is a common idiomatic expression, especially when used metaphorically.


    I am curious to know if "figuratively" could be used here to replace "metaphorically" without changing its meaning.
     
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Hello, Quiet One,

    Yes, it could, but there is a slight difference. A figure in this sense is an image. Images can be implied, as in metaphor: she sailed into the room - she's like a ship but this is implied, or they can be explicit, as in simile: she came into the room like a ship in full sail - this time we actually say she's like a ship.

    So figuratively is a broader category than metaphorically, because figuratively also embraces simile. However, most people don't go into the matter in such detail, and, in practice, I think the words are interchangeable.
     
  3. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    Homesweethome
    Formosa/Chinese
    Thanks, Thomas, for the deep and concise explanation.
     

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