Webster 1913 Edition



(mĕt′ȧ-fôrˊ or mĕt′ȧ-fẽr)
, L.
, fr. Gr.
, fr.
to carry over, transfer;
beyond, over +
to bring, bear.]
The transference of the relation between one set of objects to another set for the purpose of brief explanation; a compressed simile; e. g., the ship plows the sea.
Abbott & Seeley.
“All the world’s a stage.”
☞ The statement, “that man is a fox,” is a metaphor; but “that man is like a fox,” is a simile, similitude, or comparison.

Webster 1828 Edition



[Gr. to transfer, over, to carry.] A short similitude; a similitude reduced to a single word; or a word expressing similitude without the signs of comparison. Thus 'that man is a fox,' is a metaphor; but 'that man is like a fox,' is a similitude or comparison. So when I say, 'the soldiers fought like lions,' I use a similitude. In metaphor, the similitude is contained in the name; a man is a fox, means, a man is as crafty as a fox. So we say, a man bridles his anger, that is, restrains it as a bridle restrains a horse. Beauty awakens love or tender passions; opposition fires courage.

Definition 2024





metaphor (countable and uncountable, plural metaphors)

  1. (uncountable and countable, rhetoric) The use of a word or phrase to refer to something that it is not, invoking a direct similarity between the word or phrase used and the thing described (but in the case of English without the words like or as, which would imply a simile); the word or phrase used in this way; an implied comparison.
    • 1874, John Seely Hart, First Lessons in Composition, page 92,
      A Metaphor may be changed into a Simile, and also into plain language, containing neither metaphor nor simile. Thus:
      Metaphor. — Idleness is the rust of the soul.
      Simile. — As rust is to iron, so is idleness to the soul, taking away its strength and power of resistance.
      Plain. — Idleness takes away from the soul its strength and power of resistance.
    • 1979, Daniel Breazeale (translator), Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense [1873, Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn], in Philosophy and Truth, page 84, quoted in 1998, Ian Markham, Truth and the Reality of God: An Essay in Natural Theology, page 103,
      What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seems to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions; they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.
  2. (countable, graphical user interface) The use of an everyday object or concept to represent an underlying facet of the computer and thus aid users in performing tasks.
    desktop metaphor; wastebasket metaphor


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