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Active metaphor

 

Techniques > Use of language > Metaphor > Active metaphor

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

An active metaphor is one which is relatively new and hence is not necessarily apparent to all listeners, although if the metaphor is well-selected, it will be easy enough to understand.

To ensure the active metaphor is understood, further contextual information may be used to hint at its meaning.

Example

Let me compare thee to an artic day, sharp and bright, forever light...

It's been a purple dinosaur of a day.

You're looking pretty rabbit -- what's up?

'Metrosexual' is a modern word for an urban heterosexual male who is overly concerned with appearance.

Discussion

Active metaphors are often used in poetry and eloquent speech to stimulate the reader or listener. When words do not fit your known patterns of meaning, you are forced to think harder about them, their use and what is intended by the author.

Their use is a sign of a fertile imagination, and this attribute of the originator may well be recognized by the audience. This makes active metaphors a particularly useful method of impressing other people. Done badly, however, active metaphors can be a sign of arrogance or someone who thinks they are more intelligent than perhaps they actually are.

The active metaphor is also known as a live metaphor.

See also

Arousal principle, Surprise principle

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