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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 of figure of speech
1815-25 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for figure of speech
  • 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.
  • And a molehill becomes a mountain, to use another figure of speech.
  • The phrase is a figure of speech and has been used to refer to different bodies of water at various times and places.
  • Explain the meaning of a phrase or figure of speech.
  • It follows then that the idea of a legislative intent must be regarded as fiction or a figure of speech.
  • Without figure of speech, they might be called barbaric.
British Dictionary definitions for figure of speech

figure of speech

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 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Difficulty index for figure of speech

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