You’re the apple of my eye. I’m feeling blue. His words cut deeper than a knife. We often don’t realize it, but we constantly embellish our speech with metaphors. Let’s take a closer look at “You’re the apple of my eye”. If someone tells you that you look as sweet as apple taste, they’re likely calling you attractive. Of course, they could’ve just said “You’re attractive,” but the meaning is nowhere near as vivid or evocative as the comparison between your appearance and an apple. Therein lies a common reason people rely on metaphors: to imbue words with descriptive power. Indeed, the word metaphor consists of two Latin roots: ‘meta’ meaning ‘over’, and ‘pherein’ meaning ‘to carry or to bear’. The essence of metaphor, then, lies in the carryover of meaning from one word to another.
Metaphors are used to compare different things, making them seem indistinguishable from similes and analogies. Despite their similarity, there are key differences. Unlike similes, which make indirect comparisons by referring to an object as like or as another thing, metaphors are direct. The world is a stage. My mother-in-law is a demon.
Metaphors can also seem like analogies, but they’re also slightly different. Analogies don’t just show that things are alike but use a comparison to explain a concept. For example, consider the popular analogy in Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get”. Forrest compares life to a box of chocolates to make a point that life is unpredictable. On the other hand, metaphors don’t require an explanation: that test was murder!