figure of speech

noun, plural figures of speech. Rhetoric.
any expressive use of language, as a metaphor, simile, personification, or antithesis, in which words are used in other than their literal sense, or in other than their ordinary locutions, in order to suggest a picture or image or for other special effect. Compare trope ( def 1 ).

Origin:
1815–25

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World English Dictionary
figure of speech
 
n
an expression of language, such as simile, metaphor, or personification, by which the usual or literal meaning of a word is not employed

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to
  seeing in print.
They may not understand sarcasm or humor, or they may take a figure of speech
  literally.
The best alternative to misusing literally tends to be simply to leave it out
  and let one's figure of speech do its job.
The text of the article made it clear that this figure of speech had taken hold.
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