Posts tagged ‘metaphor’

April 12, 2011

More metaphors

I found a few more interesting metaphors for you, ones that are frequently used or interesting.

First a quick reminder: a metaphor is a figure of speech which transfers the qualities of one word to another. The implied comparison here is between two things which are seemingly unrelated but have an important thing in common.

Here are some used in politics:

grandfather clause – a clause that allows a piece of legislation not to apply to an incumbent or an established situation

Landslide victory, a metaphor, pic: jeffreyhill.typepad.com

landslide victory: a victory by a big margin, overwhelming victory

character assassination: this is a favorite of American politics and means that damaging facts, often false, fabricated or at least twisted to destroy a candidates reputation in public.

Grassroots movement – political movement driven by the members of a community

To round things out here are a couple of metaphors that I have previously explained in this blog:

It is raining cats and dogs – a metaphor used for very heavy rain

She is the apple of my eye – a metaphor used for someone who is very dear to you.

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March 27, 2011

Third Rail

The third rail: touch it and your dead! pic: railway-technical.com

If you have ever taken mass transit in an American city 9and few of us have outside of New York, San Francisco and a few other places) you have encountered a third rail. The third rail is an extra rail used for supplying electricity to trains.  Something that supplies electricity to trains also supplies electricity to body when touched – so, you heard it here, never ever touch the third rail.  In fact, just don’t touch rails at all and you’ll be fine.

Like litmus test the expression third rail has a metaphorical meaning in politics.  A topic is a “third rail” when it is controversial and charged that anybody how takes a position, or even “touches” the subject will suffer gravely if not terminally in politics.

There are in fact plenty of such third rail topics and here are the most well-known ones:

  • enacting gun-control laws
  • proposing tax increases
  • views on abortion
  • suggesting to cut spending on defense
  • views on immigration
  • proposing “socialist” program such a more secure state-funded social security net
  • being an atheist

The list goes on …

Other countries might have third rail topics, too, but the US seems to have a remarkable number of them and on topics where one would assume that reasonable people could disagree without getting nasty about it.

March 24, 2011

A few Definitions

More examples of metaphors, pic: proprofs.com

I have been throwing around the terms idiom, expression etc for a while now and so I figured, it is time to actually define them once and for all, both for my own benefits as well – hopefully – for yours.  The definitions might not be completely exhaustive but I personally find it rather tedious to read through seven bullet points for one term and have forgotten the first definition by the time I read the third anyway.  So let’s focus on the most relevant ones.

Let’s gets started with idiom: an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements.  Examples are: kick the bucket or go with the flow.

Simile: a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds  and is usually formed with like or as.  Running around like a headless chicken is one example.  “The kid was as quiet as a mouse” is another.

Metaphor: a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.  The simplest form of metaphor is: “The [first thing] is a [second thing].”  Example: “Their home is their castle.” and another: “The United States have always been a melting pot.”