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Definition and NotesEdit

Definitions of MetaphorEdit

The broadest of the tropes, a metaphor is a substitution of any dissimilar terms.  It corresponds to the inventive topoi of Similarity / Dissimilarity.  Thus it is often used synonymously with "trope".  

Simile Edit

For our purposes, a simile is a metaphor with the comparison spelled out--the function otherwise is the same.

"An implied comparison between two things of unlike nature that yet have something in common." (Corbett and Connors 396).

Notes on Theories of MetaphorEdit

Metaphor has been treated as a way of organizing the world since Vico first applied it to a theory of history.  It is one of Kenneth Burke's "Four Master Tropes."  Northrop Frye followed Vico in his discussion of the metaphorical world view, which he distinguished from the Metonymic and Descriptive world views.

Stephen Pepper introduced the concept of a "root metaphor" in his work "World Hypotheses", which also follows Vico in proposing a limited number of ways of organizing the world, each around a basic functional assumption about the nature of structure in the form of a root metaphor.  

Note that most of these global theories about attitudes toward history and ways of construing the world, are really tropical, not specifically metaphorical in the narrower sense of the word.


Please contribute current, striking, and enlightening examples of metaphor in public discourse here.

ex: "My love is like a red red rose" from Robert Burns.

ex. "You walk in and you can kind of envision your life there. It's like a first date. You know in the first 30 seconds." -Katie Couric on house hunting. ~Margaret Flock, COM 225


Burke, Kenneth. "Appendix D: Four Master Tropes." A Grammar of Motives.Berkeley: U of California P, 1969. 503-517.

Corbett, Edward P. J. and Robert J. Connors. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 4th ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1957.

Kaufman, Joanne. "Katie Couric on Why House Hunting Is Like Dating." The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 Aug. 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

Pepper, Stephen C. World Hypotheses: A Study in Evidence. Berkeley: U of California P, 1948.

Richards, I. A. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. New York: Oxford UP, 1964.

White, Hayden V. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1973.