Meaning of figurative


When speech or writing is not literal, it is figurative, like when you say you have a ton of homework. You don’t really have 2000 pounds of homework, do you? Also, when art depicts a figure from life it is figurative, like a figurative drawing of a dancer.

The adjective figurative comes from the Old French word figuratif, which means “metaphorical.” Any figure of speech — a statement or phrase not intended to be understood literally — is figurative. You say your hands are frozen, or you are so hungry you could eat a horse. That’s being figurative. In art, figure means “human or animal form,” so a figurative drawing might show horses running across a field.

Definitions of figurative
  1. adjective

    (used of the meanings of words or text) not literal; using figures of speech

    figurative language”



    expressing, composed of, or based on an analogy

    beyond the literal or primary sense
    metaphoric, metaphorical

    expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another
    metonymic, metonymical

    using the name of one thing for that of another with which it is closely associated

    characterized by romantic imagery
    synecdochic, synecdochical

    using the name of a part for that of the whole or the whole for the part; or the special for the general or the general for the special; or the material for the thing made of it

    characterized by or of the nature of a trope or tropes; changed from its literal sense

    given to rhetoric, emphasizing style at the expense of thought
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    limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text

    marked by strict and particular and complete accordance with fact
    denotative, explicit

    in accordance with fact or the primary meaning of a term

    not rhetorical
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  2. adjective

    consisting of or forming human or animal figures

    figurative art of the humanistic tradition”- Herbert Read”



    (used especially of art) depicting objects, figures,or scenes as seen

Word Family

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