• (British) IPA: /ˈmɛt.ə.fɔː(ɹ)/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈmɛt.ə.fɔ(ə)ɹ/
  • (America, rare) IPA: /ˈme.tə.fɚ/


  1. (uncountable and countable, figure of speech) 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, since use of those words would imply a simile); the word or phrase used in this way; an implied comparison.
    • [1835, L[arret] Langley, A Manual of the Figures of Rhetoric, […], Doncaster: Printed by C. White, Baxter-Gate, OCLC 1062248511 ↗, page 3 ↗:
      A Metaphor, in place of proper words,
      Resemblance puts; and dress to speech affords.]
    • 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, [,+metonymies%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_h7bMgpzKAhWFupQKHeywB7sQ6AEISjAI#v=onepage&q=%22What%20then%20is%20truth%3F%20A%20movable%20host%20of%20metaphors%2C%20metonymies%22&f=false 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, GUI) 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
Translations Translations Verb

metaphor (metaphors, present participle metaphoring; past and past participle metaphored)

  1. (intransitive) To use a metaphor.
  2. (transitive) To describe by means of a metaphor.

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