April 13, 2013
figurative (adjective)
\FIG-yuh-ruh-tiv\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: expressing one thing in terms normally used for another : metaphorical
How do you use it?
"Either I missed some subtle point or their language was excessively simple—almost exclusively composed of concrete substantives and verbs. There seemed to be few, if any, abstract terms, or little use of figurative language." (H.G. Wells, _The Time Machine_)
Are you a word wiz?

Which word do you think has a figurative meaning in addition to its literal meaning?

Literally, an "albatross" is a large graceful seabird but it also has the figurative meaning of something that causes problems or concern. In a famous poem from the late 1800s, a sailor shoots an albatross and is punished for it by having the bird's dead body tied around his neck. This makes it very difficult for the sailor to do anything. Because of this, "albatross" developed the figurative meanings of "something that greatly hinders accomplishment" and "something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety." "Figurative" traces to the Latin "fingere" which means "to shape."
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