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Ellipses       Similes       Writing to a Brief

A metaphor is a description of a certain subject by using the attributes of another subject.  For example “His voice was full of thunder”.  The writer and reader are both aware that thunder is not actually emitting from the person’s mouth, however the metaphor shows the intensity of the voice by using another sound we all know to be loud and threatening as a direct illustration of the loud, threatening voice being used.

Metaphors are extremely common, and can be heard throughout any day.  Eg: “He’s a rat.”  “She’s an angel.”  “The situation became a volcano.”

Often a metaphor is the most obvious way to relate our feelings about someone or something in a short descriptive phrase.  For example “She has a heart of gold” or  “He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” 

The speaker and the listener both understand that hearts are not made of gold, and human beings do not live in other animal forms, but we all “get” the meaning intended.  We accept that the attributes of something or someone are often best described by giving them the attributes of something completely different.  We know and accept that gold is pure, sheep are docile and wolves are predatory, and understand these attributes are the underlying description.

A metaphor therefore directly relates the qualities of one subject, such as thunder, gold or sheep with the subject being directly described.

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