List of Figurative Language Devices

figurative language list

Have you ever thought why some texts are more interesting and involving than others? Why authors that write on the same topic get different opinions about their masterpieces? Well, one of the reasons is the language they use in their works. You may know your subject perfectly and have the best theme ever but if you fail to touch your audience, your work will be meaningless. The most professional writers use special words which add a special flavor to everything they write. Simply put, they use figurative language.

This is the language which possesses or uses different figures of speech. It becomes helpful when you need to express some thoughts or ideas in a more effective and persuasive way. Figures of speech provide readers with new insights and senses.

Figurative devices: what you should know to use them properly

When people talk about this type of language, they often bear in mind different ideas. Probably, you came across the following definitions and understanding of the figurative language:

Dictionary definition. This is the language which has or uses tropes and schemes.

Common understanding. This is the language which masses around with the real meaning of words. Most of the time it means using tropes.

Another wide-spread use. The language which affects the rhythm of a text.

So, in general, using a figurative language means including figures of speech which add a special meaning to words and sometimes influence the way the text sounds. They make the text brighter and sexier. Also, they can be found in any kind of writing and also in oral speech.

How to use all types of figurative language

Not every person can easily use special tools in their texts. The good news? You can learn it over time. First of all, you need to understand the whole idea of figurative language and get a basic idea of its types and figures of speech.

So, what are the types of figurative languages? The main ones are tropes and schemes.

Tropes play with the literal sense of words. They shift their common meaning to an unusual one helping the reader to see the story from a different angle.

Schemes change a common form of a sentence. For example, it can be a words’ order or arrangement.

In other words, tropes are all about words, while schemes deal with structures (sentences, phrases).

Devices of figurative language, or figures of speech

Figurative language creates an uncommon use of words and sentences to provide a special effect or meaning. If you read the phrase or word literally, they would be senseless. Writers use them to catch their readers’ emotions, make them turn imagination on. No wonder, figurative language is especially popular among poets who try to breathe a real life into their texts.

Here is the list of figurative language elements and their description.

Metaphor. It shows one thing as if it were a different one. It may also compare two items which do not look similar. For example, “sea of grief” or “broken hearts” or “rollercoaster of emotions”. Don’t these help to literally feel what the author wants to say?

Simile. It reminds of a metaphor because it also compares two things which have nothing in common. But it compares them putting “as” or “like”. For instance, “as black as coal”, “as brave as lion”, “as easy as ABC” or “like a bird”, “like a rose”, “like two peas in a pot”. Your imagination is already working and drawing images, doesn’t it?

Hyperbole. This element sets a special place in the figurative language list. Hyperbole is an exaggeration or an overstatement which makes a strong effect in a sentence. For instance, “If I can’t get a Smartphone, I will die”, “My dress shoes are killing me”, “Her smile was a mile wide”. Are you really going to die without a smartphone or if you put the shoes on? Not talking about a smile that wide.

Personification. This figure inhales life into inanimate objects. It either describes them as humans or gives them qualities of alive creatures. Check this: “My car’s headlights winked at me”, “The cactus saluted those who drove past”, “My flowers were begging for water”. Sounds like a horror movie, doesn’t it? Not sure you want to see a car or cactus greeting you in any way or flowers saying that they are thirsty.

Oxymoron. This is an example of the figurative language which shows two things which apparently contradict each other. Sometimes you even pause and think how those two fit together. For example, “pretty ugly”, “living dead”, “original copy”.

Metonymy. When you see that a writer uses a physical object to deliver a bigger idea, then it is a metonymy. Look at these: a “head count” (meaning the number of people) or to “lend a hand” (help someone).

Imagery. This is a description which involves all senses. It is so bright and vivid that you easily get a picture in your head.

Whenever you write a text, use the language tools to add a special flavor to your writing and make that reader be your fan.

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