Figurative Language Examples: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what figurative language is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on figurative language, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is figurative language?

According to Collins English Dictionary, figurative language refers to ways in which writers can add color to their writing by using something that doesn’t exist to enhance description. These figures of speech do not use the literal meaning of something, but rather are literary devices that use imageries, exaggeration, repetition of a consonant sound of vowel sound, human characteristics, or another device to enhance poetry and prose. The different types of figurative language include personification, metonymy, assonance, simile, metaphor, alliteration, symbolism, hyperbole, idiom, onomatopoeia, synecdoche, and cliche. Fiction authors like Shakespeare used all of these. Below you will find examples of figurative language like an example of personification, examples of similes, examples of onomatopoeia, examples of synecdoche, an example of alliteration, examples of oxymorons, and more figurative language examples that can help you understand the concept of figurative language. The use of figurative language can help add rhythm and pizzazz to writing in a non-literal sense. Figurative language can build emotions and make writing more complex. 

What are examples of figurative language?

The common types of figurative language can be used in many different contexts in the English language. Trying to use a word or literary technique in a sentence is one of the best ways to memorize what it is, but you can also try making flashcards or quizzes that test your knowledge. Try using this term of the day in a sentence today! Below are a couple of examples of figurative language from Your Dictionary that can help get you started incorporating this tool into your everyday use. 

  •  The cat kicked the kite.
  •  The sun greeted me this morning.
  •  The vines wove their delicate fingers together.
  •  It’s a slow burn. I spent a couple of weeks there one day.
  •  Boom! The fireworks went off.
  •  Juliet ate the peck of pickled peppers.
  •  Zap! The laser shot me.
  •  She sells seashells by the seashore.
  •  Explore the sight of the firelight.
  •  The cow said moo, the frog said ribbit, and the alarm said beep.
  •  The sun played hide and seek with the clouds.
  •  The burning wood hissed and crackled.
  •  Her head was spinning from all the new information. 
  •  The dog gave a woof, in a grumbly mood.
  •  The sky misses the sun at night. 
  •  Watching that movie was like watching grass grow.
  •  The dog barked ruff, ruff.
  •  Betty bought butter but the butter was bitter, so Betty bought better butter to make the bitter butter better.
  •  Clean as a whistle.
  •  Bring a dish to pass.
  •  The radio suddenly stopped singing and stared at me.
  •  no pain, no gain
  •  biting off more than you can chew
  •  Misery loves company.
  •  The sky was full of dancing stars.
  •  I need to get a head count.
  •  Time is money.
  •  They fought like cats and dogs.
  •  She was living her life in chains. 
  •  Busy as a bee.
  •  Opportunity knocked at his door.
  •  She’s so dumb; she thinks Taco Bell is a Mexican phone company.
  •  She’s drowning in a sea of grief. 
  •  You could hear the hum of the engine.
  •  Bill bought a broken bike.
  •  We’re up, wide-eyed, and wondering while we wait for others to awaken.
  •  I need a Band-aid.
  •  You’re a couch potato.
  •  My mouth was as dry as a bone.
  •  Can you give me a hand?
  •  That happens all the time on Wall Street.
  •  You are my sunshine.
  •  America is a melting pot.
  •  straight from the horse’s mouth
  •  Love is blind.
  •  Please lend me your ears.
  •  throwing caution to the wind
  •  I had to walk 15 miles to school in the snow, uphill, in bare feet.
  •  I’m paying with plastic.
  •  You can’t fight the power of the crown.
  •  It was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
  •  Sounds of nature are all around us. Listen for the croak, caw, buzz, whirr, swish, hum, quack, meow, oink, and tweet.
  •  The sea lashed out in anger at the ships, unwilling to tolerate another battle. 
  •  He has a heart of stone.
  •  I move fast like a cheetah on the Serengeti. 
  •  You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.
  •  I tried with all my might to fly that kite.
  •  If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
  •  This coffee shop is an icebox! 
  •  beating a dead horse
  •  The tall girl stood out like a sore thumb.
  •  She’s happy as a clam. 
  •  Time is money.
  •  She can’t walk and talk in the dark.
  •  Karen clawed at Carl.
  •  The hissing of the cat was barely audible.
  •  Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
  •  Lee sells many shells.
  •  The brains was my tutor.
  •  Grab me a Kleenex.
  •  When she saw the dove soar high above her home, she knew the worst was over. 
  •  The world is my oyster.
  •  Brave as a lion.
  •  I’ve told you a million times to clean your room! 
  •  You snore louder than a freight train!
  •  He seems to beam at all the green.

What are other literary techniques and devices?

There are many different literary and grammatical techniques and devices that you might see when you are reading prose or poetry. It is important to recognize these devices because they are always used for some purpose. Knowing these devices can help readers understand the author’s deeper meaning and why they are using such a device. Take a look at the below list of literary devices from Reedsy and see how many you know! Then try researching ones that are unfamiliar to you. 

  •  Oxymoron
  •  Malapropism
  •  Juxtaposition
  •  Metonymy
  •  Anthropomorphism
  •  Isocolon
  •  Aphorism
  •  Anachronism
  •  Satire
  •  Flashback
  •  Simile
  •  Onomatopoeia
  •  Allegory
  •  Personification
  •  Litotes
  •  Synecdoche
  •  Paradox
  •  Allusion
  •  Archetype
  •  In Medias Res
  •  Polysyndeton
  •  Tmesis
  •  Motif
  •  Tone
  •  Chiasmus
  •  Irony
  •  Hypophora
  •  Euphemism
  •  Tragicomedy
  •  Symbolism
  •  Zoomorphism
  •  Frame story
  •  Anastrophe
  •  Anaphora
  •  Exposition
  •  Repetition
  •  Soliloquy
  •  Tautology
  •  Imagery
  •  Foreshadowing
  •  Metaphor
  •  Colloquialism
  •  Cumulative sentence
  •  Dramatic irony
  •  Point of view

Overall, the definition of figurative language is non-literal concepts that are used to enhance writing.


  1. Literary Devices | Reedsy
  2. Examples of Figurative Language: Guide to 12 Common Types | Your Dictionary 
  3. Figurative language definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary