What do you mean by “figure of speech”?

What do you mean by “figure of

(Part: 1)

Writing is an art; you are an artist! And “figure of speech” is that stroke of colour on your canvas that brings out your work to life and gives them a waft of fresh breath for time immemorial. It is a creative and rhetorical device to manifest words in a distinctive way. Unlike literal language, which also means straightforward language, the figure of speech is used to convey simpler thoughts in fanciful language to create an everlasting impact. While there are many commonly used figures of speech like metaphor, simile, irony, pun, and oxymorons, there are also some uncommon ones which are used very carefully and subtly in the correct place. But first, let us learn about the most used figures of speech.

Let’s dive deeper into the ocean of figurative language and find the hidden pearls of writing!


The commonly used figure of speech, which we sometimes use in speaking as well, is Metaphor! It is used for denoting one object, person, or action through another object, person, or action. It simply states that one thing is another thing. Two things when compared are not similar but same and equal in nature. 


1. You’re a peach!

2. My father has a heart of gold.

3. Laughter is a medicine for the soul.

4. Outside is a blanket of snow.


Much like a metaphor but different is the second type of figurative style of writing. It means comparing two things which pose similar qualities using words like or as. Making writing more vivid and descriptive, simile helps readers to conceive and visualise nouns that are being used in the sentence. 


1.  As cold as ice.

2. As slow as a sloth

3. As tall as a giraffe

4. As clever as a fox

Irony is a rhetorical device which is generally used to communicate emotion or thoughts in an opposite way, mostly in a humorous and emphatic manner. In simple words, this figure of speech is used to convey the opposite of what you really want to say. The Cambridge Dictionary defines irony as “the use of words that are the opposite of what you mean, as a way of being funny”.



  1. Saying “Thank you!” when someone breaks your favourite crayon.
  2. Saying “What lovely perfume you’re wearing” when in reality you hate the smell.
  3. Saying “Such lovely weather” when it is actually humid and sunny.
  4. A person preaching sharing, but not giving food to the needy.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, the term ‘pun’ is explained as “an expression that achieves emphasis or humour by contriving an ambiguity, two distinct meanings being suggested either by the same word or by two similar-sounding words.” The word helps to bring forth multiple meanings of the same word or the meaning of a word having the same sound. It may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic construction as its usage is specific to a particular word or expression. 



  1. Jungle animals are very fair. Zebras are always stripped.
  2. Everyone thinks my runny nose is funny, but it’s snot.
  3. He has a photographic memory, but never developed it.
  4. She was a good grammarian. She had a lot of comma sense. 

It is a literary device that juxtaposes contradictory terms to bring out a different meaning. These are poetically used to give a fresh perspective and outlook to a situation. However, not all combinations make sense. You need to carefully judge and evaluate before bringing two words together. And the thumb rule is, only two opposite words can be used together, not random words.


  1. The court has asked them to submit the original copy of the document.
  2. The fight between the two turned out to be pretty ugly.
  3. Math was her least favourite subject in school.
  4. They have a zero-tolerance policy for ragging. 
Now that you know the easiest and most used figures of speech, are you ready to know more? Well, wait for Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 for more style to alleviate your writing. Till then, use them daily in your writing and see the magic they create on paper. 
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