Meaning of Metaphor

What is a Metaphor:

A metaphor is a type of trope or rhetorical figure in which the meaning of one concept is transferred to another, establishing a relationship of similarity or analogy between both terms.

The word, as such, comes from Latin metaphŏra, which derives from the Greek μεταφορά (metaphorá) which means ‘translation’, ‘displacement’.

Metaphors are images or words whose association is suggested or summoned in a text. This association produces impressive relationships that resize the literal meaning of words or images.

In metaphors, three different levels operate:

  • the tenor, which is the term that is called literally;
  • the vehicle, which is the figurative term and where the expressive force of the metaphor lies, and
  • the foundation, which is the relationship between the tenor and the vehicle.

Thus, in the metaphor "their hair is golden", "hair" would be the tenor, "golden" would be the vehicle, and the foundation would be the golden color that both share.

See also Literary Figures.

Examples of metaphors

  • "Our lives are the rivers / that go to the sea / that is dying." Jorge Manrique, Coplas for the death of his father.
  • "That her hair is of gold, her forehead of elyseous fields, her eyebrows arched from the sky, her eyes are sun, her pink cheeks, her coral lips, pearls, her teeth, alabaster her neck, marble her chest, ivory her hands, her whiteness. snow". Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote of La Mancha.
  • "Flocks of seabirds that come from the south, rosaries of dawn in distant silence." Romulo Gallegos, Canaima.

You may also be interested in Examples of metaphor.

Metaphor and simile

The metaphor and the simile or comparison are rhetorical figures that share the characteristic of producing more or less subtle associations between two or more terms, concepts or ideas.

However, the simile differs from the metaphor in that it uses relational elements to unite the two terms in question with expressions such as “like”, “which”, “that”, “resembles” or “similar to”, between others. An example of a simile would be: “His laughter could be heard What a crash of crystals throughout the house ”.

In the metaphor this element is not found, therefore this association is suggested without it. Thus, to transform the previous simile into a metaphor, it would be enough to reformulate the phrase excluding it: "The sound of his laughter was a crash of crystals."

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