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Figure of speech   /fˈɪgjər əv spitʃ/   Listen
Figure of speech

noun
1.
Language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense.  Synonyms: figure, image, trope.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Figure of speech" Quotes from Famous Books



... language and modes of expression which have no meaning apart from this belief in the conscious animation of every object in the world. They may move us for the moment by their utterances; but we never take their raptures literally. To the savage, however, it is no figure of speech to call upon the sun to behold some great deed, or to declare that the moon hides her face; to assert that the ocean smiles, or that the river swells with rage, and overwhelms a wayfarer who is crossing it, or an unsuspecting village on its banks. These ...
— The Science of Fairy Tales - An Inquiry into Fairy Mythology • Edwin Sidney Hartland

... livelihood; and there are indications that those who enjoyed an exceptional popularity may have occupied a high social standing. Ezekiel, whose characterizations of the false prophets are remarkably striking, uses about them a significant figure of speech. He says that, while a true prophet was like a wall of fire to his country, standing in the breach when danger threatened and defending it with his life, the false prophets were like the foxes that burrow among the ...
— The Preacher and His Models - The Yale Lectures on Preaching 1891 • James Stalker

... word 'memory,'" he asks, "a real application to unconscious organic phenomena, or do we use it outside its ancient limits only in a figure of speech?" ...
— Luck or Cunning? • Samuel Butler

... withes and desires to the Deity, since the address has no influence on him, is only a kind of rhetorical figure, in order to render these wishes more ardent and passionate. This is Mr. Leechman's doctrine. Now the use of any figure of speech can never be a duty. Secondly, this figure, like most figures of rhetoric, has an evident impropriety in it, for we can make use of no expression, or even thought, in prayers and entreaties, which does not imply that these prayers have an influence. Thirdly, this ...
— Life Of Johnson, Volume 5 • Boswell

... the Moluccas we may read a compendium of the wide-spread history which applies to the vast regions comprised in the mighty Archipelago. The doctrine of earthly changes and chances, too often accepted as a mere figure of speech, is here recognised as a stern reality; the tragedies of destruction repeat themselves through the ages, the laboratories of Nature eternally forge fresh thunderbolts, and the fate of humanity trembles ...
— Through the Malay Archipelago • Emily Richings

... England must be made to do justice. England must be taught her place in the world. England must give up her claims. In hot moments he had gone further, and had declared that England must be—whipped. He had been specially loud against that aristocracy of England which, according to a figure of speech often used by him, was always feeding on the vitals of the people. But now all this was very much changed. He did not go the length of expressing an opinion that the House of Lords was a valuable institution; but he discussed questions of primogeniture and hereditary legislation, in ...
— He Knew He Was Right • Anthony Trollope

... "A figure of speech, Brion. Meaning you fight back all the time, if you don't want to be washed ...
— Planet of the Damned • Harry Harrison

... so much in this respect that they scarcely credit each other's testimony. Some who had practically zero imagery held that the "picture before the mind's eye" spoken of by the poets was a myth or mere figure of speech; while those who were accustomed to vivid images could not understand what the others could possibly mean by "remembering facts about the breakfast table without having any image of it", and were strongly tempted to accuse them of poor introspection, if not worse. It is true that ...
— Psychology - A Study Of Mental Life • Robert S. Woodworth

... he gave up practising in the forum, partly from shame, partly from fear. For, in a certain trial before the court of the One Hundred [923], having lashed the defendant as a man void of natural affection for his parents, he called upon him by a bold figure of speech, "to swear by the ashes of his father and mother which lay unburied;" his adversary taking him up for the suggestion, and the judges frowning upon it, he lost his cause, and was much blamed. At another time, on a trial for murder at Milan, before Lucius Piso, the proconsul, ...
— The Lives Of The Twelve Caesars, Complete - To Which Are Added, His Lives Of The Grammarians, Rhetoricians, And Poets • C. Suetonius Tranquillus

... a little different figure of speech," returned Blind Charlie smoothly. "When I've got a coon up a hollow tree I build a fire in the hollow to bring him ...
— Counsel for the Defense • Leroy Scott

... sometimes a mere figure of speech," and Mr. Crane smiled, too. "However, I was allowed to see her and have a real seance—oh, Helen," he turned to his wife, "I can scarcely wait to go there again and have you ...
— The Come Back • Carolyn Wells

... understand how, when in his later years Crabbe was introduced to wits and men of the world, he generally held his peace, or, at most, let fall some bit of dry quiet humour. At rare intervals he remembers that a poet ought to indulge in a figure of speech, and laboriously compounds a simile which appears in his poetry like a bit of gold lace on a farmer's homespun coat. He confessed as much in answer to a shrewd criticism of Jeffrey's, saying that he generally ...
— Hours in a Library - New Edition, with Additions. Vol. II (of 3) • Leslie Stephen

... man,—as perhaps you know. I make it a point never to deal with any one except the head of a concern, if you'll pardon my way of putting it. It isn't right to speak of Growstock as a concern, but you'll understand, of course. Figure of speech." ...
— The Prince of Graustark • George Barr McCutcheon

... heard but the whirr of the motor and the steady flow of the garrulous woman behind. Not till the machine was descending the long divide to the west did a single cowboy come into view to remind the girl of the heroic past, and this one but a symbol—a figure of speech. Leaning forward upon his reeling, foaming steed, he spurred along the road as if pursued, casting backward apprehensive glances, as if in the brassy eyes of the car he read his doom—the doom of ...
— Cavanaugh: Forest Ranger - A Romance of the Mountain West • Hamlin Garland

... can learn exact particulars about the mode in which Rameses II made war, from the poem of Penta-Our, a Theban writer of the fourteenth century B.C. It is only by a figure of speech that this poem can be called an epic; it is rather a historical narrative couched in terms of poetic exaggeration with the object of flattering ...
— Egyptian Literature

... literary world. And his assertion I found confirmed by the critics, who, with one accord, and without being paid, declared these verses proof that the author possessed "a rare inventive genius." The meaning of this was all Hebrew to me. My mother suggested that it might be a figure of speech copied from Chaldean mythology. ...
— The Life and Adventures of Maj. Roger Sherman Potter • "Pheleg Van Trusedale"

... called Antanaclasis (or repetition of the same words in a different sense)—that I laughed and my mother smiled. But she smiled reverently, not thinking of the Antanaclasis, as, laying her hand on Roland's arm, she replied in the yet more formidable figure of speech called Epiphonema (or exclamation), "Yet, with all your economy, ...
— The Caxtons, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... the delay, as well as over the question itself. France in particular called for immediate and energetic action, urging that it was necessary to show the iron hand under the velvet glove. The iron hand was not a mere figure of speech, for the British and French fleets could not only bombard the coast cities of Greece, but institute a blockade which would cut ...
— The Story of the Great War, Volume IV (of 8) • Francis J. (Francis Joseph) Reynolds, Allen L. (Allen Leon)

... Israel, would dare to talk of the "days" mentioned in Genesis as "periods of time"; or of the "firmament" as not meaning a solid vault over the universe; or of the "waters above the heavens" as not contained in a vast cistern supported by the heavenly vault; or of the "windows of heaven" as a figure of speech?(134) ...
— History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom • Andrew Dickson White

... getting on. Then I take a turn over the city, gossip with the weathercocks, pay my compliments to the bells, inspect the fire-alarm, and pick up information by listening at the telegraph wires. People often talk about "a little bird" who spreads news; but they don't know how that figure of speech originated. It is the sparrows sitting on the wires, who receive the electric shock, and, being hollow-boned, the news go straight to their heads; they then fly about, chirping it on the housetops, and ...
— Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag • Louisa M. Alcott

... it better. My speech certainly was better cheered than any other; especially one passage, where I made a colossus of Mr. Browne, at which the audience grew so tumultuous in their applause that they drowned my figure of speech before it was half out ...
— Passages From the English Notebooks, Complete • Nathaniel Hawthorne

... as cook and cabin-boy on board a "horse-jockey;" one of those vessels which carry horses, mules, and other cattle to the West Indies; a title bestowed upon them by sailors, who are very much in the habit of indulging in that figure of speech called by rhetoricians metonymy; in this instance applying the genuine name of all Connecticut men, and some Rhode Islanders, to a fore-topsail schooner, or hermaphrodite brig, as the case might be. He was next, by a sort of metamorphosis, or ...
— An Old Sailor's Yarns • Nathaniel Ames

... buttes, to look over the country and see if they can discover the enemy. If some one of the scouts reports that he has seen a camp, and that the enemy have been found, the leader directs his men to paint themselves and put on their war bonnets. This last is a figure of speech, since the war bonnets, having of late years been usually ornamented with brass bells, could not be worn in a secret attack, on account of the noise they would make. Before painting themselves, therefore, they untie their war bonnets, and spread them out on the ground, as if they were about to be ...
— Blackfoot Lodge Tales • George Bird Grinnell

... by modern painters or sculptors, of wealth, of commerce, of health, for instance, shocks, in most cases, the aesthetic sense, as something conventional or rhetorical, as a mere transparent allegory, or figure of speech, which could please almost no one. On the other hand, such symbolical representations, under the form of human persons, as Giotto's Virtues and Vices at Padua, or his Saint Poverty at Assisi, or the series of the planets in certain early Italian engravings, are profoundly poetical ...
— Greek Studies: A Series of Essays • Walter Horatio Pater

... to polish the teeth of her grandmother's cat! I must rank pretty low in the consideration of Dejah Thoris, I thought; but I could not help laughing at the strange figure of speech, so homely and in this respect so earthly. It made me homesick, for it sounded very much like "not fit to polish her shoes." And then commenced a train of thought quite new to me. I began to wonder what my people at home were doing. I had ...
— A Princess of Mars • Edgar Rice Burroughs

... however, is that the sceptic, pessimistic Turgenef could not as an artist faithful to his belief do aught else with his heroes than to let them perish. For to him cruel fate, merciless destiny, was not mere figure of speech, but reality of realities. To Turgenef, life was at bottom a tragedy; and whatever the auspices under which he sent forth his heroes, he felt that sooner or later they must become victims of blind fate, brute force, of the relentlessly ...
— Lectures on Russian Literature - Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenef, Tolstoy • Ivan Panin

... passages in which stars and planets are referred to in a way that indicates some sort of a conception of them as divine: they are said to have fought against Israel's enemies, and in the later literature they are (perhaps by a poetical figure of speech) identified with foreign deities or with angels.[1234] But there is no sign of Israelite worship offered them till the seventh century B.C., when, on the irruption of Assyrian cults, incense is said ...
— Introduction to the History of Religions - Handbooks on the History of Religions, Volume IV • Crawford Howell Toy

... conclusion, "He is bound," (by his oath,) and so freed from the duty to his parents, is left to be inferred from the speaker's silence; compare the similar use of this figure of speech, in Ex. 32:32; ...
— The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. • Various

... dear boy, not literally, but in a figure of speech; as the Lord, when declaring he never will forget Zion, says, 'I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.' The meaning of the passage you first read is that we must have the word of God as continually present to our minds as anything written on ...
— Choice Readings for the Home Circle • Anonymous

... this gentleman,' said Mr. Micawber to my aunt, 'if you will allow me, ma'am, to cull a figure of speech from the vocabulary of our coarser national sports—floors me. To a man who is struggling with a complicated burden of perplexity and disquiet, such a reception is ...
— David Copperfield • Charles Dickens

... be received as a figure of speech. Old Betty Higden however tired, however footsore, would start up and be driven away by her awakened horror of falling into the hands of Charity. It is a remarkable Christian improvement, to have made a pursuing Fury of the Good Samaritan; but it was so in this case, ...
— Our Mutual Friend • Charles Dickens

... say it very humbly, is, that St. Paul spoke of these things only as a figure of speech, for the sake of the ignorance of the people to whom he was writing. They talked in that way; and he was forced now and then to talk in that way, too, to make them understand him. I think that, when he spoke of being caught up into the third heaven, he did not mean that ...
— Town and Country Sermons • Charles Kingsley

... becoming apparent enough. The literary "Boom," for example, affected the entire reading public of the early nineteenth century. It was no figure of speech that "everyone" was reading Byron or puzzling about the Waverley mystery, that first and most successful use of the unknown author dodge. The booming of Dickens, too, forced him even into the reluctant hands of Omar's ...
— Anticipations - Of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon - Human life and Thought • Herbert George Wells

... the Zendavesta; and was there not a scaly fellow in the garden of Eden? So common are these beast-demons in the higher mythologies that they are used in every literature as rhetorical figures. So we find, as a figure of speech, the great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with tail that with one brush sweeps away a third of the stars of heaven. And where-ever we find nature-worship we find it accompanied with beast-worship. In the study of higher philosophies, ...
— Sketch of the Mythology of the North American Indians • John Wesley Powell

... my trials with those dressmakers), I should say I was on pins and needles till it's all over. Bless me! and so I am, for here are three on the floor and one in my shoe." Prue paused to extract the appropriate figure of speech which she had ...
— Moods • Louisa May Alcott

... treat me with a tender cordiality that is touching; then there comes into my course one who expresses a sort of friendly indifference, and there I stay scorching my wings or freezing my toes—whichever figure of speech you prefer. ...
— The Parts Men Play • Arthur Beverley Baxter

... the rest, with the New England theologians down to Park, to feel that forgiveness could not be quite free. If we acknowledge that this symbolism of God as judge or sovereign is all symbolism, mere figure of speech, not fact at all, then that objection—and much else—falls away. If we assert that another figure of speech, that of God as Father, more perfectly suggests the relation of God and man, then forgiveness may be free. Then justification and forgiveness ...
— Edward Caldwell Moore - Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant • Edward Moore

... come to the same conclusion. "Hanging" gardens do not necessarily depend from anything, "floating" islands need not necessarily float. They really have the appearance of buoyancy to-day, and hence the figure of speech which has been universally applied to them. "I have not seen any floating gardens," says R. A. Wilson, author of "Mexico and its Religion," "nor, on diligent inquiry, have I been able to find a man, woman, or child that ever has seen them, nor do I believe that ...
— Aztec Land • Maturin M. Ballou

... I had been two days at Holly House, I reflected that my sitting-room faced the wrong way for the view, and that my bedroom was dark and not large enough to swing a cat in. Not that there was the remotest necessity of my swinging cats in it, but the figure of speech is always useful. Neither did I care to occupy myself with the perennial inspection and purchase of raw edibles, when I wished to live in an ideal world and paint a great picture. Mrs. Hobbs would come to my bedside in the morning and ask me if I would ...
— Penelope's English Experiences • Kate Douglas Wiggin

... his delirious fancy this figure of speech became a reality. A rain of blood streamed down upon him from dark clouds; his clothes and hands were wet with the loathsome moisture. He went down to the Nile to cleanse himself, and suddenly saw Nitetis coming towards him. She had the same sweet smile with which Theodorus had modelled ...
— Uarda • Georg Ebers

... thus vividly described is evidently a mere figure of speech: so is it in the other instances which picture the rephaim as employed and in motion. "Why," complainingly sighed the afflicted patriarch, "why died I not at my birth? For now should I lie down and be quiet; I should slumber; I should then ...
— The Destiny of the Soul - A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life • William Rounseville Alger

... such a thing to happen for a moment," said Mrs. Mallet, as if this had been no figure of speech but the actual alternative, "not to any relation of ...
— Cecilia de Noel • Lanoe Falconer

... device to elevate the style, and raise it above prose. My purpose was to imitate, and, as far as is possible, to adopt the very language of men; and assuredly such personifications do not make any natural or regular part of that language. They are, indeed, a figure of speech occasionally prompted by passion, and I have made use of them as such; but have endeavoured utterly to reject them as a mechanical device of style, or as a family language which Writers in metre seem to lay claim to by prescription. I have wished to keep the Reader in the company ...
— The Prose Works of William Wordsworth • William Wordsworth

... the observant faculties of Harrington as in harmony both with the high social position of the parties and the peculiar sadness of the occasion. That a young man and woman, on the eve of matrimony, and with everything to live for, should be hurled into eternity (a Harringtonian figure of speech) by a railroad train at a rustic crossing, while driving, was certainly an affair heartrending enough to invite every habiliment of woe. As he thus reasoned Harrington became aware that one of the stalwart young men was looking at him with an expression which seemed to ask only too plainly, "What ...
— The Law-Breakers and Other Stories • Robert Grant

... the street are not only forcible but subtle: for a figure of speech can often get into a crack too small for a definition. Phrases like "put out" or "off colour" might have been coined by Mr. Henry James in an agony of verbal precision. And there is no more subtle truth than that of the everyday ...
— Orthodoxy • G. K. Chesterton

... print there in the dark. W'y don't you go over to the light?... I'll 'ave to 'ave them shutters tyken off the winders." This was Stryker's amiable figure of speech, frequently employed to indicate the coverings of ...
— The Black Bag • Louis Joseph Vance

... a French book about two lovers I came across the expression: "They were the universe to each other." It struck me as at once pathetic and comical, how that thoughtless phrase, put there merely as a hyperbolical figure of speech, in our case was so literally true. Still it is also literally true for a French passion of that kind. They are the universe to each other, because they lose sense for everything else. Not so with us. Everything we once loved we still love all the more ardently. The world's meaning has ...
— The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IV • Editor-in-Chief: Kuno Francke

... a memory now. If Jonah's gourd had not been a little too much used already, it would serve an excellent turn just here in the way of an apt figure of speech illustrating the growth, the wilting, and the withering of Metropolisville. The last time I saw the place the grass grew green where once stood the City Hall, the corn-stalks waved their banners on the very site of the old store—I ask pardon, the "Emporium"—of Jackson, ...
— The Mystery of Metropolisville • Edward Eggleston

... sketch of a man, a thing of tints and faint lines. Their gorgeous colouring has effaced me altogether. People forget how much mode of expression, method of movement, are a matter of contagion. I have heard of stage-struck people before, and thought it a figure of speech. I spoke of it jestingly, as a disease. It is no jest. It is a disease. And I have got it badly! Deep down within me I protest against the wrong done to my personality—unavailingly. For three hours or more a week I have to go and concentrate my attention ...
— The Country of the Blind, And Other Stories • H. G. Wells

... opinion; (heteron epistemes doxa; eph' hetero ara heteron ti dynamene hekatera auton pephyke? ouk enchorei gnoston kai doxaston tauton einai?) and thirdly, to illustrate that opposition, the figurative use, so impressed on thought and speech by Plato that it has come to seem hardly a figure of speech at all but appropriate philosophic language, of the ...
— Plato and Platonism • Walter Horatio Pater

... soul that I would try to secure your happiness. I know what you want, need, and deserve, and here is this perfect child—the one woman for you, snatched from under your nose by Clive Cameron who will—" Emily Tweksbury sought for a figure of speech—"who will, without doubt, ...
— The Shield of Silence • Harriet T. Comstock

... evil of Greek life as a thing not to be spoken of; but it has a ridiculous element (Plato's Symp.), and is a subject for irony, no less than for moral reprobation (compare Plato's Symp.). It is also used as a figure of speech which no one interpreted literally (compare Xen. Symp.). Nor does Plato feel any repugnance, such as would be felt in modern times, at bringing his great master and hero into connexion with nameless ...
— Symposium • Plato

... are not mutually contradictory; and hence it is not necessary to assert one or other of them. For when we say the Father and the Son are one principle, this word "principle" has not determinate supposition but rather it stands indeterminately for two persons together. Hence there is a fallacy of "figure of speech" as the argument concludes from the ...
— Summa Theologica, Part I (Prima Pars) - From the Complete American Edition • Thomas Aquinas

... poet, waving his heavy white hand, "is a figure of speech, Mr. Wayne. Only by the process of elimination can one arrive at the exquisite simplicity of poverty—care-free poverty. Even a single penny is a burden—the flaw in the marble, the fly in the amber of perfection. Cast it away and enter Eden!" And joining thumb and ...
— Iole • Robert W. Chambers

... followed, Emily's isolated position in the world was revealed in few words. But one more discovery—the most important of all—remained to be made. Had she used a figure of speech in saying that she was as poor as Mirabel himself? or had she told him the shocking truth? He put the question with perfect delicacy—-but with unerring directness ...
— I Say No • Wilkie Collins

... father calls a figure of speech. He's a minister—a clergyman, you know. We've come down here to board, and he's going to have the services in the Chapel of the Heavenly Rest. Mother's sick about always, so I have to roam around—Say, I know a game; let's baptize ...
— What Two Children Did • Charlotte E. Chittenden

... reading Evidence given in a Court of Justice. So anxious the story-teller seems, that the truth should be clearly comprehended, that when he has told us a matter of fact, or a motive, in a line or two farther down he repeats it with his favorite figure of speech, 'I say' so and so,—though he had made it abundantly plain before. This is in imitation of the common people's way of speaking, or rather of the way in which they are addressed by a master or mistress, who wishes to impress something upon their memories; and has a wonderful effect ...
— The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb (Vol. 6) - Letters 1821-1842 • Charles and Mary Lamb

... of later Sanscrit poetry. The poetry of Kalidasa, for instance, is ornate and beautiful, and almost scintillates with similes in every verse; the poetry of the Maha-bharara is plain and unpolished, and scarcely stoops to a simile or a figure of speech unless the simile comes naturally to the poet. The great deeds of godlike kings sometimes suggest to the poet the mighty deeds of gods; the rushing of warriors suggests the rushing of angry elephants in the echoing jungle; the flight of whistling ...
— Maha-bharata - The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse • Anonymous

... Child Labor in America, shows clearly that at the bottom of the ancient desire to use very young persons in industry was a conviction that work, constant and hard work, is the only safeguard against evil. "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do" was not a figure of speech to our ancestors, it was statement of a sober fact. This feeling led naturally to the conditions that gave Samuel Slater, the pioneer in textile manufacture in New England, a collection of child workers in his first mill as his only laborers and at ages ...
— The Family and it's Members • Anna Garlin Spencer

... bleak lives found at last their fulfillment in her. She expanded under the influence of warmth and color; for climate is a larger moral factor than is usually recognized. In California the struggle for life is a meaningless figure of speech, and Adelle did not like struggling. She loved to putter about in the overgrown garden and to slumber in the sun beside her little boy, refusing to descend to the delights of the club and Bellevue hospitality even after she had no excuse. When Irene took her to task for her dawdling ...
— Clark's Field • Robert Herrick

... depressing effect. Members, with one consent, go out to think over what he is probably going to say. Convenient arrangement for them, but does not add to hilarity of proceedings, or vary impression CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN'S figure of speech conveys. ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 104, April 15, 1893 • Various

... will come when that story or that figure of speech will just fit in to illustrate some point he is trying to make. Nor does the correspondent restrict his material to the subject in which he is directly interested, for ideas spring from many sources and the advertisement ...
— Business Correspondence • Anonymous

... in The Blessed Damozel, and, in his later work, makes him speak sometimes almost like a believer in mesmerism. Dream-land, as we said, with its "phantoms of the body," deftly coming and going on love's service, is to him, in no mere fancy or figure of speech, a real country, a veritable expansion of, or addition to, our waking life; and he did well perhaps to wait carefully upon sleep, for the lack [215] of it became mortal disease with him. One may even recognise a sort of morbid and over-hasty ...
— Appreciations, with an Essay on Style • Walter Horatio Pater

... Sense and Faith, shy, wild, and provocative, for ever lures her lovers to the chase, and the record of their hopes and conquests is contained in the lover's language, made up wholly of parable and figure of speech. There is nothing under the sun nor beyond it that does not concern man, and it is the unceasing effort of humanity, whether by letters or by science, to bring "the commerce of the mind and of things" to terms of nearer correspondence. ...
— Style • Walter Raleigh

... the Emperor returned to the palace in a frightful condition. From the time he mounted his horse, at six o'clock in the morning, the rain had not ceased a single instant, and he was so wet that it could be said without any figure of speech that the water ran down into his boots from the collar of his coat, for they were entirely filled with it. His hat of very fine beaver was so ruined that it fell down over his shoulders, his buff belt was perfectly soaked with water; in fact a man just drawn out of the river would not be wetter ...
— The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete • Constant

... which a small open-air theatre was in active operation. A small quarter of the great slope of masonry facing the stage was roped off into an auditorium, in which the narrow level space between the foot-lights and the lowest step figured as the pit. Foot-lights are a figure of speech, for the performance was going on in the broad glow of the afternoon, with a delightful and apparently by no means misplaced confidence in the good-will of the spectators. What the piece was that was deemed ...
— Italian Hours • Henry James

... the illustration. Many a time the lad snuggled up to a wall which had a warm chimney, and he had got his figure of speech from real life. ...
— The Judgment House • Gilbert Parker

... spirits has he preached? To those who aforetime were unbelieving. This is the figure of speech which is called Synecdoche. That is, "from a part the whole" (ex parte totum),—that is to say, not to these very spirits, but to those who are like them, and are just as unbelieving as they. Thus must we look away from this outward, to ...
— The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude Preached and Explained • Martin Luther

... chimney-corner, leaving Mistress Clere to deal with the offender. Elizabeth well knew that the strap was no figure of speech, and that Mistress Clere when angry had no light hand. Girls were beaten cruelly in those days, and grown women too, when their mothers or mistresses chose to punish them for real or supposed offences. But Elizabeth Foulkes thought very little of the ...
— The King's Daughters • Emily Sarah Holt

... had attended the trial. He was a youth of about twenty-two, intelligent, handsome, and amiable, but extremely indolent, in a graceful and gentlemanly way; or, as old Judge Fenderson put it more than once, he was lazy as the Devil,—a mere figure of speech, of course, and not one that did justice to the Enemy of Mankind. When asked why he never did anything serious, Dick would good-naturedly reply, with a well-modulated drawl, that he did n't have to. His father was rich; there was ...
— The Wife of his Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line, and - Selected Essays • Charles Waddell Chesnutt

... "A doubtful figure of speech," Sir William broke in. "I think you should establish the personality before you attempt to give a feature ...
— The Shaving of Shagpat • George Meredith

... Christ. This every careful interpreter of this text will admit. Christ could easily have said: Upon thee will I build My Church, if it had been His intention to say just that. And we imagine on such a momentous occasion Christ would have used the plainest terms, containing no figure of speech, no ambiguities whatever; for was he not now introducing to the Church the distinguished person who was to preside over its affairs? Catholics claim that when Christ spoke these words, "upon this rock," He had extended ...
— Luther Examined and Reexamined - A Review of Catholic Criticism and a Plea for Revaluation • W. H. T. Dau

... autobiographies, "A Personal Record," by Joseph Conrad. Mr. Conrad's mind is so rich, it has been so well mulched by years of vigorous life and sober thinking, that it pushes tendrils of radiant speculation into every crevice of the structure upon which it busies itself. This figure of speech leaves much to be desired and calls for apology, but in perversity and profusion the trellis growth of Mr. Conrad's memories, here blossoming before the delighted reader's eyes, runs like some ardent trumpet vine or Virginia creeper, spreading hither ...
— Shandygaff • Christopher Morley

... veracity and human nobleness, set by the gods of this lower world to their gazing populations, who could read in the Gazettes! What is truth, falsity, human Kingship, human Swindlership? Are the Ten Commandments only a figure of speech, then? And it was some beggarly Attorney-Devil that built this sublunary world and us? Questions might rise; had long been rising;—but now there was about enough, and the response to them was falling due; and Belleisle himself, what is very notable, had been appointed ...
— History of Friedrich II. of Prussia, Vol. XII. (of XXI.) • Thomas Carlyle

... distinguish this motion from others, and to signify the causes of our sensations of heat, etc., the name repulsive motion has been adopted." Here we have a most important idea. It would be somewhat a bold figure of speech to say the earth and moon are kept apart by a repulsive motion; and yet, after all, what is centrifugal force but a repulsive motion, and may it not be that there is no such thing as repulsion, and that it is solely by inertia that what seems to be repulsion is produced? ...
— Scientific American Supplement, No. 460, October 25, 1884 • Various

... lives and deaths of organisms, we see nothing to which the words 'fitness' and 'unfitness' are applicable in the physical sense." And he continues: "Evidently, the word 'fittest' as thus used is a figure of speech." Had the sun fallen from the heavens the shock to the followers of Darwin could not have been more stunning than this open apostasy from the ...
— Evolution - An Investigation and a Critique • Theodore Graebner

... Root fell into the greatest of all possible rages, and, as we like a figure of speech called a climax, we must say, that Mrs Root fell into a much greater. They would turn the hussey out of the house that instant; they would do that, they would do this, and they would do the other. At length, the lady, with calm severity, requested them to do ...
— Rattlin the Reefer • Edward Howard

... unutterable and indefinable and impalpable and unnamable and subtly indescribable, then elevate your aristocratic nose towards heaven and snuff up the smell of decay. It is perfectly true that there is something in all good things that is beyond all speech or figure of speech. But it is also true that there is in all good things a perpetual desire for expression and concrete embodiment; and though the attempt to embody it is always inadequate, the attempt is always made. If the idea does ...
— A Miscellany of Men • G. K. Chesterton

... irrational to believe in nymphs, fairies, elves, and the like, yet still we may say that mountains stand of their own accord, rivers run as they will, just as we say that trees and grass turn their leaves towards the sun of their own accord. Neither is it a mere figure of speech to say that thunder speaks and hills respond, nor to describe birds as singing and flowers as smiling, nor to narrate winds as moaning and rain as weeping, nor to state lovers as looking at the moon, the moon as looking at them, when we observe spiritual element in activities ...
— The Religion of the Samurai • Kaiten Nukariya

... droll wonder of Bottom's metamorphosis is merely the translation of a metaphor in its literal sense." The turning of a figure of speech thus into visible form is a thing only to be thought of or imagined; so that probably no attempt to paint or represent it to the senses can ever succeed. We can bear—at least we often have to bear—that a man should seem an ass to the mind's eye; ...
— Shakespeare: His Life, Art, And Characters, Volume I. • H. N. Hudson

... fall to pieces, and made every glass and teacup in it ring. Upon this, the Aged—who I believe would have been blown out of his arm-chair but for holding on by the elbows—cried out exultingly, "He's fired! I heerd him!" and I nodded at the old gentleman until it is no figure of speech to declare that I absolutely could not ...
— Great Expectations • Charles Dickens

... of Loelia elegans, I said that those Brazilian islanders who have lost it might find solace could they see its happiness in exile. The gentle reader thought this an extravagant figure of speech, no doubt, but it is not wholly fanciful. Indians of Tropical America cherish a fine orchid to the degree that in many cases no sum, and no offer of valuables, will tempt them to part with it. Ownership is distinctly recognized when the specimen grows near a village. The root of this ...
— About Orchids - A Chat • Frederick Boyle

... reduced to it after knowing other things. You often think, I doubt not, in quiet hours, what would become of your children, if you were gone. You have done, I trust, what you can to care for them, even from your grave: you think sometimes of a poetical figure of speech amid the dry technical phrases of English law: you know what is meant by the law of Mortmain; and you like to think that even your dead hand may be felt to be kindly intermeddling yet in the affairs of those who were your dearest: ...
— The Recreations of A Country Parson • A. K. H. Boyd

... again rush to the attack upon the citadel of fire. He beholds the slow victory of the water at last, and the great globe, now glooming in a cloak of darkness, covered with a wildly boiling sea—not boiling by figure of speech, under contending forces of wind and tide, but boiling high as the hills to come, with veritable heat. He sees the rise of the wrinkles we call hills and mountains, and from their sides the avalanches of water to the lower levels. He ...
— A Dish Of Orts • George MacDonald

... little story, but, for the life of me, I can not tell you which one is to be the hero and which the villain—but, let that go, for I am sure of one thing at least: this story has no villain. But it followed just as naturally as day follows night—for which figure of speech, my thanks to Mr. Shakespeare—that when Father Ilwin failed to do well, he grew gloomy and sad; and just as naturally—God help us—there was enough of human nature in Father Tom to say, "I told you so" to himself, and to have him pity Father ...
— The City and the World and Other Stories • Francis Clement Kelley

... The machine combined great power with gentleness. The hammer could be made to give so gentle a blow as to crack the end of an egg placed in a wine glass on the anvil; whilst the next blow would shake the parish or be instantly arrested in its descent midway.* [footnote... This is no mere figure of speech. I have heard the tea-cups rattle in the cupboard in my house a quarter of a mile from the place where the hammer was at work. I was afterwards informed that the blows of my great steam hammer at Woolwich Arsenal were sensibly ...
— James Nasmyth's Autobiography • James Nasmyth

... people, from their more guarded and composed method of speaking, are not so liable to fall into that figure of speech for which our Irish neighbours are celebrated—usually called the Bull; some specimens, however, of that confusion of thought, very like a bull, have been recorded of ...
— Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character • Edward Bannerman Ramsay

... perhaps closer figure of speech, almost all Dickens's works such as these may best be regarded as private letters addressed to the public. His private correspondence was quite as brilliant as his public works; and many of his public works are almost as formless and casual as his private ...
— Appreciations and Criticisms of the Works of Charles Dickens • G. K. Chesterton

... front room, opened the casement, and looked out. To say that her heart leaped into her mouth would be a most imperfect figure of speech to describe the state of feeling that rushed over her. In the rainy obscurity of the night she could discern something white drawn up to the door, and the figures of two men standing by it. The only wonder was that she did not ...
— Verner's Pride • Mrs. Henry Wood

... A striking figure of speech—an unusual metaphor, for example—may often be used in the beginning of an article to arouse curiosity. As the comparison in a metaphor is implied rather than expressed, the points of likeness may not immediately be evident to the reader ...
— How To Write Special Feature Articles • Willard Grosvenor Bleyer

... continued, in a hard voice, "that Vyner and Son are not anxious to dispense with your services. That is, in a way, a figure of speech. Mr. Robert knows nothing of this, and I may tell you—as an old and trusted servant of the firm—that his share as a partner is at present but nominal, and were he to do anything seriously opposed to my wishes, such as, for instance—such as ...
— Salthaven • W. W. Jacobs

... be expressed. When one estate was said to be enslaved to another, or a right of way was said to be a quality or [383] incident of a neighboring piece of land, men's minds were not alert to see that these phrases were only so many personifying metaphors, which explained nothing unless the figure of speech was true. ...
— The Common Law • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

... that if what we have been describing as the process of recall is true, then the commonly accepted idea that practice in memorizing makes memorizing easier is false, and that there is no truth in the popular figure of speech that likens the memory to a muscle that ...
— The Trained Memory • Warren Hilton

... all about her he might have formed a larger estimate of her staying-power. But he did not yet know what she was. That bad word that he had once let out through the window had been in Ranny's simple mind a mere figure of speech, a flowering expletive, flung to the dark, devoid of meaning and of fitness. He did not know what Violet's impulses and her instincts really were. He did not know that what he called her flabbiness was the inertia in which they stored their strength, nor that ...
— The Combined Maze • May Sinclair

... after him wonderingly. He had never said it to her before. Perhaps it was a figure of speech which people reserved for travelling. She supposed there was always the danger of a possible accident. Ah! if they could only have started off together, as he said, and never gone back to Sleepy ...
— A Princess in Calico • Edith Ferguson Black

... have been by way of a figure of speech," remarked Theron, not with entire directness. "Women are great hands to separate one's observations from their context, and so give them meanings quite unintended. They are also great hands," he added genially, "or at least ...
— The Damnation of Theron Ware • Harold Frederic

... that expression, "sinking self," is only a figure of speech. At the last, the true artist never sinks self: he is always supreme, and towers above every subject, every object, that he portrays. The riotous health and good-cheer of Rubens marked the man's limitations. He was not great enough to comprehend ...
— Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great, Volume 6 - Subtitle: Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Artists • Elbert Hubbard

... at such times is no figure of speech. What has so disturbed the peace in the electric equilibrium, as to make possible this sudden outburst, this steep incline in the stream of energy, this ethereal Niagara pouring from heaven to earth? Is a thunderstorm a display of the atomic energy of which the physicists ...
— The Breath of Life • John Burroughs

... men came with the ropes and the tackle necessary and slowly righted the car he found that its engine ran again and he had speed and strength once more as his servants. He tried to encourage Charity with a figure of speech. ...
— We Can't Have Everything • Rupert Hughes

... (Vol. viii., p. 640.).—This phrase is identical with that of "petitio principii," a figure of speech well known both to logicians and mathematicians, i. e. assuming a point as proved, and reasoning upon it as such, which has in fact ...
— Notes and Queries, Number 233, April 15, 1854 • Various

... has been too hasty in attributing it to me. Though Time be a comparatively innocent personage to swear by, and though Longinus in his discourse {Peri Hypsous} has commended timely oaths as not only a useful but sublime figure of speech, yet I have always kept my lips free from that abomination. Odi profanum vulgus, I hate your swearing and ...
— The Biglow Papers • James Russell Lowell

... whose lives have spread over the last eighty years it has been well said that "to be borne in one world, to die in another, is, in the case of very old people, scarcely a figure of speech," so marvellous is the difference between the surroundings of their cradle and their grave. Standing by the Janus at the portals of the two centuries, what a contrast was presented in the backward and forward ...
— Fragments of Two Centuries - Glimpses of Country Life when George III. was King • Alfred Kingston

... at the mountain, drew upon his memory for sundry squalls and gales which he had seen himself, and thought the boatman's figure of speech less extravagant than ...
— The Headsman - The Abbaye des Vignerons • James Fenimore Cooper

... nature of the Klondiker high or low, and during its short stay here the Expedition was regally received and entertained. A wood-cut, which appeared in the principal newspaper representing "Dawson City extending the glad hand of welcome to Explorer De Windt" was no mere figure of speech, for we were seldom allowed to pay for a meal, while the refreshments and cigars lavished upon me by total strangers at every moment of the day would have set up a regimental mess. My host here was the manager of ...
— From Paris to New York by Land • Harry de Windt

... opponent, and to play upon the foibles of judge or jury; but he had not the faculty for generalization and analysis, nor the nice discrimination in the application of general principles to particular instances, which must be combined in a great lawyer. He cannot by any figure of speech be called a statesman. As a politician, he was one of the first to discover and one of the most skilful in the use of those unworthy arts which have brought the pursuit of politics into disrepute; but we doubt whether he could have succeeded upon the broader field of the present ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 5, March, 1858 • Various

... anyone the impression that these qualities are women, with flesh and blood. Again, we do not think of Nature as an actual woman, though we call her one; why may we not conceive of God, then, as an expression whereby we personify, by a figure of speech only; the thing that is intended being no person, but our own highest ideal of power, ...
— God the Known and God the Unknown • Samuel Butler

... No figure of speech could describe the short, precise tone of finality in which Corentin spoke; the Baron could not fail to observe it, and his face expressed his astonishment—an expression he had long expunged from ...
— Scenes from a Courtesan's Life • Honore de Balzac

... one" certainly was a figure of speech, since more than a hundred body-guards-Macedonians in rich array of arms-and an equal number of distinguished court-officials were standing on the marble flags of the vast hall, which was surrounded by colonnades, while the star-spangled night-sky was all ...
— Uarda • Georg Ebers

... ink-distributing roller were not as yet in general use in small provincial printing establishments. Even at Angouleme, so closely connected through its paper-mills with the art of typography in Paris, the only machinery in use was the primitive wooden invention to which the language owes a figure of speech—"the press groans" was no mere rhetorical expression in those days. Leather ink-balls were still used in old-fashioned printing houses; the pressman dabbed the ink by hand on the characters, and the movable table on which ...
— Two Poets - Lost Illusions Part I • Honore de Balzac

... translation, though, before many months, the mere transposition from one language into the other must become purely mechanical. It is amusing to see the puzzled expression of countenance of some Swiss student who takes his notes in French, when one of those long German compounds, involving some bold figure of speech, is uttered. What circumlocutions must he not use, if he wish to give the ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Volume 7, Issue 41, March, 1861 • Various

... religious and civil habits of action, are all the instruments and materials of poetry; they may be called poetry by that figure of speech which considers the effect as a synonym of the cause. But poetry in a more restricted sense expresses those arrangements of language, and especially metrical language, which are created by that imperial faculty; whose throne is curtained within the invisible nature of man. And this ...
— A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays • Percy Bysshe Shelley

... group are numerous allegories and symbolical stories. To understand Hawthorne's method of allegory [Footnote: An allegory is a figure of speech (in rhetoric) or a story (in literature) in which an external object is described in such a way that we apply the description to our own inner experience. Many proverbs, such as "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones," are condensed allegories. ...
— Outlines of English and American Literature • William J. Long

... control the wild exuberance of thought and feeling that were occasionally manifested by her intelligent and engaging child. As she grew older, she became more and more the companion of Helen, who studied her character attentively: and, if we be allowed such a figure of speech, wisely endeavored to train it in a right direction, rather than to prune it to any conventional form. Thus a perfect confidence was established, and ever subsisted between the mother and daughter; and the natural thoughtfulness of spirit, and energy of purpose, ...
— The Pilgrims of New England - A Tale Of The Early American Settlers • Mrs. J. B. Webb

... repeated Strachan, looking somewhat embarrassed. "It was a mere figure of speech: you always take one up so uncommonly short.—Nothing remained for her but flight, or submission to the Cruel mandate. Like a heroic girl, in whose veins the blood of the old crusaders was bounding, she preferred the former alternative. The only relation ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 62, No. 382, October 1847 • Various

... Husband that lives a very scandalous Life, and wastes away his Body and Fortune in Debaucheries; and is immoveable to all the Arguments I can urge to him. I would gladly know whether in some Cases a Cudgel may not be allowed as a good Figure of Speech, and whether it may not be lawfully used by a Female Orator. Your ...
— The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 - With Translations and Index for the Series • Joseph Addison and Richard Steele

... the station, reiterating their wish to see me again. Nothing, indeed, would have been pleasanter than to idle away weeks amid this adorable scenery and these charming people. But life is short and France is immense. The genially uttered au revoir becomes too often a mere figure of speech. ...
— In the Heart of the Vosges - And Other Sketches by a "Devious Traveller" • Matilda Betham-Edwards

... expressions of all kinds, and to those graceful touches of humor and pathos that are so characteristic of Andersen, Stevenson, Ruskin, Kingsley, and other great writers for boys and girls. No child who can read well for himself is too young to appreciate a good figure of speech if the comparison is based upon something falling within his own experience. Who is so young, or so old, for that matter, that he will not thrill ...
— Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 10 - The Guide • Charles Herbert Sylvester

... in their arms, I now found, was a mere formula or figure of speech, and consisted only in throwing garlands over me. Still I was much comforted, not merely by the grace and cordiality of their welcome, but by the mention of Ila, whose name will doubtless be familiar to my readers ...
— Fashionable Philosophy - and Other Sketches • Laurence Oliphant

... neglected without total failure to read her in health and in disease. There is a great deal relating to this matter, some of it seeming fanciful and overwrought, but not more so than the natures of many women. For woman herself is an hyperbole, and the plainest statement of her condition is a figure of speech. Some of those chapters that are written, as we might say, in hysteric paragraphs, only more fitly express the extravagances which belong to the nervous movements ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 4, No. 23, September, 1859 • Various

... eyes grew brighter still. "Oh, I didn't mean that," she protested. "I was—I was employing a figure of speech." ...
— The Cow Puncher • Robert J. C. Stead

... I repeated. "Is it a figure of speech that the rich man fared sumptuously, that he died, that he was buried? Is not that literal? Why, then, is it a figure of speech that he lifted up his eyes in torment, and said, 'I am tormented in this flame'(Luke 16:24). My dear friend, be sure that there is an awful reality in that ...
— From Death into Life - or, twenty years of my ministry • William Haslam

... remark was no figure of speech. In those days men were but too well accustomed to hewing off heads. Leif meant to have his orders attended to, and ...
— The Norsemen in the West • R.M. Ballantyne

... to believe you?" she demanded. "You tell me you are in earnest. But you know as well as I do that that is a mere figure of speech. You are never in earnest. You play all day long. You will do it all your life. You never do anything worth mentioning. Other people do the work. You simply skim the surface of things. You ...
— The Tidal Wave and Other Stories • Ethel May Dell

... I'm conservative, doctor, but I'm glad you're consistent. She did send another valentine. I am afraid she strained this figure of speech about the boat. But when everything in the world depends on one metaphor, it will not do to be fastidious. Jennie drew again the little boat with misspelt name. And this time she added five words: 'The ...
— Duffels • Edward Eggleston

... thing for another.] Substitution. — N. substitution, commutation; supplanting &c. v.; metaphor, metonymy &c. (figure of speech) 521. [Thing substituted] substitute, ersatz, makeshift, temporary expedient, replacement, succedaneum; shift, pis aller[Fr], stopgap, jury rigging, jury mast, locum tenens, warming pan, dummy, scapegoat; double; changeling; ...
— Roget's Thesaurus

... ultimate twigs represent the living world of species. Natural selection plays only the role of the gardener who prunes the tree into this or that shape but who has himself produced nothing. As an imaginative figure of speech Naegeli's comparison of the tree might even today seem to hold if we substituted "mutations" for "growth", but although we know so little about what causes mutations there is no reason for supposing them to be due to an inner impulse, and hence ...
— A Critique of the Theory of Evolution • Thomas Hunt Morgan

... the level of prose." Such passages may nevertheless be marked by poetic beauty, due to the circumstances or atmosphere in which the plain words are spoken. The drama is full of such instances. "I loved you not," says Hamlet; to which Ophelia replies only: "I was the more deceived." No figure of speech could be ...
— A Study of Poetry • Bliss Perry

... is contained in food points again (as we have found to be the case with the Biblical narratives of Creation and of the Deluge) to a common source for the two traditions. Similarly the phrase 'waters of life' is a figure of speech of frequent occurrence in Biblical literature in both the Old and the New Testaments. It is no argument against a common source for the Hebrew and Babylonian stories explaining how man came to forego immortality, that the waters of life should be found ...
— The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria • Morris Jastrow

... entire garrison to attain his end. He did not, however—to continue the simile of La Cerda—prescribe for others a medicine which he himself was not prepared to take, and when he said that he would go to the fort of St. Elmo it was no mere figure of speech. The council of the Knights, however, would not hear of the Grand Master thus sacrificing himself; well did these noble gentlemen know that there was none among them like unto him, that his name and his influence were worth an army in themselves. The outcry ...
— Sea-Wolves of the Mediterranean • E. Hamilton Currey

... may call up conflicting mental images. When using metaphor, simile, etc., carry one figure of speech through, instead of shifting to another, or dropping ...
— The Century Handbook of Writing • Garland Greever

... Borrowing his figure of speech from the environment of child-hood, C. J. Weber has said: "Die Gesellschaft ist die Grossmutter der Menschkeit durch ihre Tochter, die Erfindungen,—Society is the grandmother of humanity through ...
— The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought • Alexander F. Chamberlain



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