If you ask random people on the street to define figurative language, you will likely get a bunch of blank stares, and a few uh’s and um’s. We all exaggerate, we use comparisons, and words that start with the same letter. But we don’t do it with purpose or intention. We also don’t have neon signs on our foreheads that flash “HYPERBOLE,” “SIMILE” OR “ALLITERATION” as we speak. Personally, I think that would be awesome, but that’s because I’m a figurative language geek. However, by understanding what figurative language is, and how to use it, we can make our lives a little smoother. Here are five examples.
1. Hyperbole is the technical term for a really, really big exaggeration. Using hyperbole dramatically increases your odds of getting what you want. Imagine if your mom tells you that you have to stop playing video games and do your homework. If you say, “But Mom, I’d rather keep playing.” it’s game over. If you say, “But Mom, it took me 500 years to get to this level and if I don’t finish it, I’m going to die and have to start all over again. Just give me 15 more minutes.” chances are that you will get those extra minutes.
2. Onomatopoeia is, without a doubt, the best word in the English language. Okay, that might be hyperbole, but stay with me. Onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like what it is describing. Animal sounds are great examples. A dog’s bark or a cat’s meow sound like the words we use to describe them. Using onomatopoeia makes your words come to life. Your readers will almost be able to hear the “plop,” “squeak” or “buzz” that you are writing about. Use onomatopoeia in your next Facebook post and see how many more “likes” you get.
3. Alliteration is when the words near each other start with the same sound. Without it, we wouldn’t have tongue twisters. Imagine a world with no Peter Piper picking pickled peppers or no Sally selling seashells by the seashore. Companies like to use alliterative brand names because they’re catchy. Think of Bed, Bath & Beyond or Krispy Kreme or Lululemon. So when you are thinking of a name for your million-dollar business idea, think of an alliteration.
Those are just three examples of figurative language, but there are many more. Don’t forget interjections, similes, metaphors and idioms. You can order your own figurative language poster by clicking here.