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Figurative Language

Figurative Language

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Figurative language serves as a method of description of the world from the other point of view. It is usually used in literary texts and in poetries. The main aim is to show the new acceptation of the surroundings and to highlight the senses. Sometimes, the examples of the figurative language can surprise with its unexpected views. There are a lot of types of the figurative language. The most common are metaphors, hyperboles, simile, and idioms. There are also the other, for instance, amphibolies, analogies, clichés and colloquialisms. In addition to that, there are widely used “flame words” and euphemisms. Each language has its own examples of the figurative language.

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Widely spread, are the idioms. The idiom is an expression whose content does not match the content of its constituent words. Correct and appropriate idiomatic expressions serve to decorate the speech, make it alive and vibrant. Added they are works of art, giving them a special flavor. The scientific literature indicates that idiomatic has specific functions such as expressive, characterizing, euphemistically, humorous, emotional, cognitive, ethnic cultural, and others. The most common and often used the example of the idiom is the expression “ASAP” which means “as soon as possible”. There are a lot of idioms in English, for instance, “dark horse”, “turn the deaf ear”, “with an eye to”, “have one foot in the grave”, etc. There is a problem with idioms for the foreigners who learn the language and for the translators and interpreters because sometimes the idioms in different languages are not the same. They can mislead the person who is just starting the learning process, for example, the idiom “give someone a lift” might be understood directly “to present the elevator” and not in the real meaning “to drive to the place” (Niergarth, 2007).

The analogy in literary is an artistic device close to comparison. To reveal the essence of a complex phenomenon, the writer depicts another similar phenomenon, but easier and better familiar to the reader. It has in common with the simile, but the analogy might be understood by everyone who speaks the language, as well as by only some people, who live in a particular region or country. The analogy in Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book” compares the ook to a child. The other examples are “to be like a rock” or “to be as quiet as a mouse”.

The analogy has two types: metaphor and simile. Metaphor is the kind of comparison of the unlike things on the basis of their similarity. Types of metaphor are based on color, size, form, function, location, and emotional impression, for example, “white light”, “the hand of fate”, “tail of the aircraft”, “black soul”. Metaphor is often expressed in action, such as cat smile in his mustache. It omits the statement of likeness.


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A simile is a verbal expression in which an idea of the object depicted is specified by comparing it with another object, such that contains necessary to specify presentation attributes in a more concentrated manifestation (Bullinger). The simile always consists of the words “as” or “like”, for example, “to be stubborn as a mule” or “blind as a bat”. It is one of the most often used figures of speech as in the prose and poetry, but also in the colloquial language.

Cliché is a usual turnover, regularly recurring in certain circumstances and contexts for identity designation of adequate management, human relations, etc. For example, there are blocks of language etiquette: “I am glad to see you”, “deeply appreciated with respect”, “I wish you happiness and good”, and many others. To describe different phenomena of political life, there are clichéd phrases such as “law enforcement”, “organized crime”, “electoral bloc”, “public discussion”, etc. In official-business communication are used such clichés as “ask questions for consideration”, “hold office”, “due to family circumstances at the place of work in connection with the retirement”. In the medical field are prevalent clichés “previous medical examination”, “feeling pain”, “food intake”, and others.

Amphiboly is a statement that allows ambiguous interpretation. It is understood as a stylistic effect mystery or as an oversight that can eliminate the restructuring proposal. For example, “The dog is sold. With the food is not fastidious. It loves children”. Such double meaning leads to the misuunderstanding of the context.

A flame word is a word used in order to harm another person. Some examples are: stupid, incompetent, etc. The flame words are often used in the form of sarcasm or irony. It is used mostly during arguing to offend the opponent.

The hyperbola is called the verbal method of the exaggeration of the subject to underline its specific features and in order to attract the reader’s attention. The basis of hyperbole is always a certain element of absurdity, a sharp contrast to common sense or social experience. Hyperbole always acts as a surprise that with great power destroys automatism of the reader’s perception. The hyperbole is often used in prose and poetry, but it is also common in the colloquial language. For instance, when the person calls someone on the phone for a couple of times and gets no answer, this person says “I called a million times!” There are also a plenty of the other examples such as “hungry enough to eat a horse”, “it is so cold, that polar bears wear jackets”, “to have a million things to do”, etc.

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Euphemism is a word or phrase which is used to avoid the real name of the subject. Euphemism is not necessarily acts as a trope (Bullinger). Very often euphemistically replacement is achieved by means of lexical synonyms. There are euphemisms which are used to be polite, for example, “passed away” instead of “died” or “use the restroom” instead of “go to the bathroom”. However, there are also euphemisms with the aim of offence. There are used by the impolite people. The euphemisms are the implicit expressions.

Colloquialism is different from the literal language or dialects. It is used in casual language by common people. It is usually in the form of clipping, for example, “Life’s short” or “I’ve been here for long time”. It also contains the slang and other special words.

Figurative language definitely differs from the literal language, but it is the part of it because it is often used in the literal texts. However, the scientists argue about this question (Brown, 2012). Some of the figures of speech help to underline and strengthen the subject, the other mislead the reader, but all of them serve to make the speech lively and interesting.

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