Types of Figurative Language
Figurative language is an expressive form of words that moves past literal meaning. As such, there are many different types of figurative language, each of which accomplishes a different task. Figurative language is most frequently found in literature and poetry.
The most common forms of figurative language are simile and metaphor, which make comparisons. Simile is a comparison that uses like or as. An example of a simile would be “hungry as a horse.” In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “The late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean.” Metaphors are similar, but make a direct comparison without like or as. One of the more famous metaphors in literature is Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
Onomatopoeia is a type of figurative language that uses a word to represent a sound, such as “bark” or “zing.” Personification gives human characteristics to non-living things, such as Emily Dickenson’s “Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me.” Hyperbole is an exaggeration. “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse,” is an example of this. Idioms are other types of expression, but generally restricted by culture. To “kick the bucket” is an idiom expressing death. Alliteration may be the easiest form of figurative language, in that there is a series of words using the same consonant: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.