No one likes a bland meal. The same is true for articles and blogs.

Figurative language is a powerful tool used by writers and speakers to evoke emotions, paint vivid pictures, and add depth to their prose. By going beyond the literal meaning of words in everyday speech, figurative language helps make our literary work more impactful and memorable.

Key Takeaways

  • Figurative language is one of the most common types of creative writing.
  • Figurative language can sometimes help explain a foreign concept in simpler terms.
  • Common techniques include implicit comparisons and intentional exaggeration that gives your writing more emotional attributes.
  • It’s best to use figurative language sparingly. Treat it like a spice.

After reading this article, adding figurative language to your own work will be a drop in the bucket. Let’s dig in.

What Is Figurative Language?

Figurative language refers to the use of words or expressions in a non-literal manner to convey ideas or concepts.

While figurative language is commonly associated with literature and poetry, its benefits extend far beyond the realm of creative writing. In our everyday conversations, we often utilize various types of figurative language without even realizing it. From idioms like "break a leg" to euphemisms like "kick the bucket," these expressions add color and depth to our communication.

Figurative language works by encompassing various techniques, such as simile, implied metaphor, personification, hyperbole, and many others. These techniques are also known as literary devices, and they’re used to give familiar words different meanings.

Related: A Big, Fat List of 91 Literary Devices to Help You Dazzle Your Readers

Figurative Language Examples

Similes and Metaphors

Similes and metaphors are two of the most commonly used types of figurative language.

Similes compare two unrelated things using "like" or "as" to create vivid imagery. For example, "Her smile was as bright as the morning sun."

Metaphors, unlike similes, directly equate two unrelated things, and don’t have hard grammar rules. An example of a metaphor would be saying, "Love is a battlefield."

Both similes and metaphors enable writers and speakers to paint pictures and convey complex emotions in a concise and relatable way.


Personification is another powerful literary device that brings life to non-living objects or abstract concepts by attributing human characteristics to them. Through personification, inanimate objects or ideas can become relatable and evoke emotions in the audience.

An example would be something like "The wind whispered secrets through the trees." By giving the wind the ability to whisper and the trees the ability to listen, the reader or listener can form a connection with nature, enhancing the overall impact of the message.


Hyperbole involves the use of extreme exaggeration for dramatic effect. By intentionally overstating something, a writer or speaker can evoke strong emotions and emphasize key points.

"I've told you a million times!" is a great example of hyperbole. Have you really said a million things? I doubt it. This exaggeration creates impact and captures the attention of the audience. However, it is essential to use hyperbole sparingly to avoid diminishing its effectiveness.


Onomatopoeia is a more silly type of figurative language that uses words that imitate or mimic sounds. By incorporating words that sound like the noise they represent, writers and speakers create a multisensory experience for their audience.

In the phrase "The crackling fire warmed the chilly room," the word "crackling" represents the sound made by the fire, intensifying the reading experience and allowing readers to immerse themselves in the scene being described.

When incorporating figurative language into your writing, consider the context and purpose of your work. Overuse of figurative language can detract from the clarity of your message and confuse your readers. Striking a balance is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Figurative and Literal Language?

Literal language has one intended use case and meaning. Figurative language purposely uses certain words or phrases out of context to create more creative, imaginative language.

What Are Some Quick Ways to Write Figurative Language?

Think about how you already speak. Often, the figures of speech we use in our day-to-day lives are the best applications of figurative language because they are casual and recognizable.

What Are Some Tips for Writing Figurative Language?

Think about the human qualities of your writing and keep it simple. Calling someone a “night owl” or an Albert Einstein would both be examples of figurative language.

Spice Up Your Writing Today

Figurative language serves as a bridge between imagination and communication. By understanding the different types and learning to incorporate them effectively, we can unlock the true potential of our words. ◆

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