100+ Common Metaphors with Meanings

8 minute read

She’s the man of the house! What do you think the above sentence implies? The ‘woman’ is being called the ‘man’ to draw a parallel with the idea of taking all the responsibility and being the bread earner in the house. This was an example of a common metaphor! Metaphors are widely used across the English language and hold an important place in exams like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, TOEIC, and many more. If you are preparing for English for competitive exams, then this blog on common metaphors with meanings can help you out in many ways. Read on to know more!

What is a Metaphor?

Metaphor (Etymology: ‘Metaphora’ in Greek meaning “to transfer”) is an interesting way to emphasize and map certain descriptive qualities of two terms. Metaphors create a beautiful blend between concepts, to form comparisons between a particular behaviour, concept or a feeling with something impractical or unrelated to it. The best examples of abstract metaphors are seen in movies like the Oscar-winner Parasite where the characters are attributed to the quality of leaching off wealth.

Types of Metaphors

Let’s dig deeper and look at the many types of metaphors!

Here are a few common types of metaphors:

Implied Metaphor

An implied metaphor compares two things without naming one of the things. Here we draw an implication by using the basic formula: A is B.

For example: “Our soldiers were lions in the war.” This means the soldiers fought like lions.

“A woman barked a warning at her child.” This implies that the woman is compared to a dog.

Visual Metaphor

One of the most interesting types of metaphors, a visual metaphor compares one thing to a visual image that suggests an association. Visual metaphors are frequently used in advertisements and movies to symbolise or depict a theme, feeling, etc. For example, the following picture is a visual metaphor that suggests that the Earth is melting like an Ice Cream to indicate the effects of climate change and globalization.

Courtesy: Primogif

Extended Metaphor

An extended metaphor extends over several lines in a poem, stanza, or passage. These extended metaphors build upon simple metaphors with figurative language and descriptive comparison. For example, in the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, he makes the comparison between two roads and life choices.

Metaphor Examples for Kids

Courtesy: Tenor

In the initial years of our lives, our brain grasps concepts much faster than adults. teaching metaphors through creative examples can help children develop unique perspectives and understanding about concepts, ideas, and materials. If you want to teach the concept of metaphors to kids, you can use various creative metaphors that children can easily remember. Here are the best metaphor examples for kids.

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 Some examples of Metaphors

  • Heart of stone: Cruel or stern nature
    My teacher has a heart of stone.
  • The Zoo metaphor: Crowded and noisy
    The classroom turns into a zoo during recess.
  • Time is money: The value of time is as important as money itself.
    Time is money, my friend!
  • Tall tree: Taller in height like a giant
    He is a tall tree.
  • The wind screamed in his face while he was riding the bike.
    Meaning: The wind is compared with a scream to emphasize on how furiously it blew.
  • Go for a walk or you’ll become a couch potato.
    Meaning: Here, the person is told that he/she will turn fat and bulgy like a potato if they avoid exercising.
  • Her heart of stone was the result of the previous unfortunate events in her life.
    Meaning: In this sentence, the heart is symbolised by a stone, emphasizing on the lack of empathy she developed.
  • Her mom warned her about the monsters in the world.
    Meaning: The denotation of the bad, wicked people is made by monsters.
  • He was a diamond among the sea of glass.
    Meaning: The man (diamond) is said to be unique like a diamond among other ordinary men (sea of glass).
  • You’re sitting on a winning lottery.
    Meaning: The term winning lottery is used to emphasize on a golden opportunity.
Credit: giphy
  • He was a cheetah in the race.
    Meaning: The runner’s speed is being attributed to the speed of a cheetah.
  • You’ll be left in the dust.
    Meaning: Here leaving one in the dust, implies being left far behind.
  • The professor was a guiding light for him.
    Meaning: The professor is compared with light, so as to help him pave his way easily.
  • The curtains of life fell.
    Meaning: The phrase ‘curtains of life’ are compared to that of a show which has fallen denoting that the person’s life is over.
  • Life is a maze.
    Meaning: Life is being said to have its own navigation as you move ahead with surprises at every turn.
  • There’s a rat among us.
    Meaning: Rats are said to be sneaky animals and are associated with betrayal.
  • Her heart sank on hearing the terrible news.
    Meaning: The sinking of the heart is termed to emphasise on deep sorrow.
  • Laughter is the best medicine.
    Meaning: Laughter is compared with medicine so as to help you heal or recover from an event.
  • India’s culture is a salad bowl.
    Meaning: Salad bowl is a common cultural idea to reflect India’s multiple cultures, yet having their own individual identities.
  • His heart was made of gold.
    Meaning: Here, gold is used to indicate abundance and generosity.
  • She was drowning in grief.
    Meaning: Drowning is used to emphasize the amount of sorrow or problems in a person’s life.
  • The mind is an ocean.
    Meaning: The mind is attributed to its endless capacity and also to characterize calmness.
  • Her heart melts when she sees him.
    Meaning: The melting of the heart means to be sympathetic and compassionate.
  • Your words cut deeper than a knife.
    Meaning: The phrase is used to emphasize the intensity of a certain hurtful speech.

Also read about 100 Useful Idioms with Examples, Sentences & Meanings

Credit: GVLToday
  • His lawyer is a shark.
    Meaning: The lawyer being compared to a shark means the implication of vicious or ruthless behaviour.
  • He thinks that the world revolves around him.
    Meaning: Here, the ‘world revolving around someone’ is used to describe a self-centred person or behaviour.
  • The mind is a computer.
    Meaning: The mechanisms of the computer are compared to the brain.
  • Sarojini Naidu is the nightingale of India.
    Meaning: The attribution of poetry and a melodious voice is associated with the nightingale and hence, the comparison.
  • A friend is a treasure.
    Meaning: The friend is given the attributes of a treasure being precious and hard to find.
  • Love is a rose.
    Meaning: Rose is used to characterize both- beauty and hardships (Petals and thorns).

Also read about Parts of Speech: Learn Grammar the Right Way

Common Examples in Literature

Metaphors are used by authors, writers, speakers, and poets as interesting devices. They used such metaphors to emphasize an event, situation, or a sensitive matter by using a much stronger concept fit for comparison.

Here are the most common metaphors in Literature:

  • “Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.” – Robert Frost
  • “Hold fast to dreams, For when dreams go
    Life is a barren field, Frozen with snow.”
    – Langston Hughes
  • “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day.” William Shakespeare
  • “Hope is the thing with feathers.” – Emily Dickinson
  • “The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed: It was past eight-thirty and still light.” Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  • “Wishes are thorns, he told himself sharply. They do us no good, just stick into our skin and hurt us.” A Face Like Glass, Frances Hardinge
  • “Love is a battlefield.” – Pat Benatar
  • “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” – William Shakespeare
  • “Each friend represents a world in us.”– Anais Nin
  • “If wits were pins, the man would be a veritable hedgehog.” Fly by Night, Frances Hardinge

Common Metaphors of Life

Courtesy: Giphy

We often say many metaphors in our everyday life and routine without even realising that we are using them. Here are the most common metaphors used in everyday life:

  • Life is a race and we never realise that we are running towards nothing!
  • He is the light of my life.
  • For this whole year, this room has become my prison.
  • Love is a fine wine!
  • My heart’s a stereo and it beats for you!
  • She is happy as a clam.
  • My mind becomes an ocean with calm waves when I meditate.
  • Yesterday was a roller-coaster!
  • She was fit as a fiddle!
  • Doesn’t matter, he is an old flame!

Examples in Poems

Many famous poets have used metaphors in their poems as it enhances the meaning of the poem. Here are some of the best poems that used metaphors: 

  • All the world is a stage
    All men and women merely players”- As you Like It by William Shakespeare
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,”
    “And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler”
    “I took the one less traveled by”- Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
  • “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers” 
    “. . . That perches in the soul
    And sings the tune without the words,”- Hope by Emily Dickinson

Simile and Metaphor

similes and metaphors examples
Courtesy: INK Blog

Inarguably, the most common comparisons and mistakes people tend to make are between similes and metaphors. Similes are explicit comparisons, e.g. He ran like a cheetah. A metaphorical sentence for the same would be: He was a cheetah in the race. Similes are cognitively more complicated because it includes the addition of cognizing the two objects. Similes include the words ‘as’ and ‘like’ to draw a comparison between two terms. Metaphors instantly help the reader/listener to apply all attributes of the particular concept to another one.

Is it a Metaphor or a Simile?

Life is like a box of chocolates.
This is a Simile

The world is your oyster
This is a Metaphor

Her mother was as sharp as a tack.
This is a Simile

His computer was a dinosaur.
This is a Metaphor

‘The simile is also a metaphor. The difference is but slight’.
– ‘Aristotle’ by Jonathan Barnes, 1984

Metaphor vs Analogy

Courtesy: Cognition Today

While Metaphor and Analogy have the same type of usage, their purpose is different. A metaphor is poetically comparing something with something else while an Analogy is comparing something with something else for an explanatory point.

Also Read: Reported Speech Rules With Exercises

Metaphors vs Similes Quiz PDF

Hope these metaphors helped you explore some new terms. Metaphors are the most beautiful form of figurative speech which can help you communicate your thoughts and imaginations poetically. They don’t just add enrichment to the language but also help us draw parallels between incidents, people, and objects in our everyday lives. Interested in studying Creative Writing courses? Reach out to our Leverage Edu counsellors and we will guide you in selecting the best course and university to actualise your career aspirations! Sign up for a free session with us now! You can call our Leverage Edu experts on 1800 572 000 to find out how the application process can be fast-tracked and streamlined!

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  1. While looking for metaphors, similes and such i came across your lists here. It’s like striking the jackpot! Thank you very much for sharing!!

  1. While looking for metaphors, similes and such i came across your lists here. It’s like striking the jackpot! Thank you very much for sharing!!

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