metaphor [Gr., = transfer], in rhetoric, a figure of speech in which one class of things is referred to as if it belonged to another class. Whereas a simile states that A is like B, a metaphor states that A is B or substitutes B for A. Some metaphors are explicit, like Shakespeare's line from As You Like It : "All the world's a stage." A metaphor can also be implicit, as in Shakespeare's Sonnet LXXIII, where old age is indicated by a description of autumn:
A dead metaphor, such as "the arm" of a chair, is one that has become so common that it is no longer considered a metaphor.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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