Metaphor: Figure of explication occurring when a comparison made by speaking of one thing in terms of another; an implied comparison between two different things which share at least one attribute in common; an association between two unlike things (A vs. B) achieved by borrowing the language that refers to thing A and applying it to thing B.  (not to be confused with simile)

Examples

Colonel Kurtz: "Are you an assassin?"

Captain Willard: "I'm a soldier."

Colonel Kurtz: "You're neither. You're an errand boy...sent by grocery clerks...to collect a bill."

-- delivered by Marlon Brando and Martin Sheen  (from the movie Apocalypse Now)

"Ten days ago, President Reagan admitted that although some people in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy, even worried, about themselves, their families, and their futures. The President said that he didn't understand that fear. He said, "Why, this country is a shining city on a hill." And the President is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill. But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city's splendor and glory."

-- Mario Cuomo, 1984 Democratic National Convention Address

"With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

-- Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream

Note: There are two metaphors which serve as a comparison for two different but related ideas: 1) racial problems = "jangling discords" and 2) racial problems solved through faith = "beautiful symphony of brotherhood"



"This is of course the big event of show business and the atmosphere here is pure electricity. But as a television show, it does tend to go slightly off the boil, particularly as we drift into the third and fourth hour. What can we do about it?"

-- Paul Hogan, Remarks at the 59th Academy Awards

"At the dawn of spring last year, a single act of terror brought forth the long, cold winter in our hearts. The people of Oklahoma City are mourning still."

-- Al Gore, Oklahoma Bombing Memorial One Year Anniversary Address

Note: Implied comparison between the (unstated) emotions of grief and sorrow and "a long, cold winter."

"Nobody, including me, anticipated how the problems that started in the mortgage markets would spread to our credit markets and our banking system, and now threaten our entire financial system and our country. Like many other financial institutions, Lehman Brothers got caught in this financial tsunami."

-- Richard Fuld, Opening Statement to Congress on Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy

"It is a such a pleasure to be with all of you -- with people of different backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs, all pulling in the same direction and sharing a common outlook of respect and tolerance. It reminds me how lucky we are to be living in a country that enables civil society to flourish. Civil society is one of the guardrails of democracy, and so I thank you for the work so many of you do on behalf of refugees in this country and around the world."

-- Angelina Jolie, Interfaith Iftar Address

 

"But he [President George H.W. Bush] often said, 'When the really tough choices come, it's the country, not me. It's not about Democrats or Republicans -- it's for our country that I fought for.' And he was a man of such great humility. Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington, D.C. are not bothered by heavy traffic."

-- Alan Simpson, Memorial Remarks for President George H.W. Bush

  "Islam, therefore, except in exceptional circumstances, rejects abortion as a method of population planning. There is little compromise on Islam's emphasis on the family unit. The traditional family is the basic unit on which any society rests. It is the anchor on which the individual relies as he embarks upon the journey of life."

-- Benzir Bhutto, International Conference on Population and Development

"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul."

-- Psalm 23:1 (KJV), delivered by Max McLean

Rhetorical Figures in Sound

Online Speech Bank

Copyright 2001-Present. 
American Rhetoric.
Created by Michael E. Eidenmuller.
All rights reserved.