of the nature of or involving a figure of speech, especially a metaphor; metaphorical and not literal: The word “head” has several figurative senses, as in “She's the head of the company.” metaphorical, not literal, symbolic.
metaphorically so called: His remark was a figurative boomerang.
abounding in or fond of figures of speech: Elizabethan poetry is highly figurative. ornate, ornamental, flowery, elaborate, florid, grandiloquent.
representing by means of a figure or likeness, as in drawing or sculpture.
representing by a figure or emblem; emblematic.

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin figūrātīvus (see figurate, -ive); replacing Middle English figuratif < Middle French

figuratively, adverb
figurativeness, noun
nonfigurative, adjective
nonfiguratively, adverb
nonfigurativeness, noun
semifigurative, adjective
semifiguratively, adverb
semifigurativeness, noun
unfigurative, adjective
unfiguratively, adverb
unfigurativeness, noun

figuratively, literally, virtually (see usage note at literally). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To figurative
World English Dictionary
figurative (ˈfɪɡərətɪv)
1.  of the nature of, resembling, or involving a figure of speech; not literal; metaphorical
2.  using or filled with figures of speech
3.  representing by means of an emblem, likeness, figure, etc
4.  (in painting, sculpture, etc) of, relating to, or characterized by the naturalistic representation of the external world

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

late 14c., from Fr. figuratif, from L.L. figurativus, from figurare (see figure). Of speech, language, etc., "involving figures of speech," from 1845. Related: Figuratively
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Example sentences
The future would be characterized not by the literal but only the figurative
  war of ideas.
In turn, those perceptions can enhance colleges' literal and figurative
It reveals the oldest known figurative paintings in the world.
His political office also pinched him, in a figurative way.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature