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metaphor (MET-uh-for) noun

1. A figure of speech in which a word or phrase which is not literally applicable is used in place of another to suggest an analogy.

2. Something used to represent another; a symbol.

[From Latin metaphora, from Greek metaphora, from metapherein (to transfer), from pherein (to carry).]

"He (Richard Dawkins) took his doctorate under Niko Tinbergen, who won a Nobel Prize for his studies of birds; as a young post-doc he was head-hunted to Berkeley, where he developed his first metaphor of the immortal gene; in this instance they were leading down the generations, discarding the bodies they used as hitch-hikers discard their rides. The full viewpoint of The Selfish Gene appeared when he returned to Oxford as a fellow of New College in 1970." Andrew Brown, Anatomy of a Selfish Genius, The Independent (London), Oct 17, 1998.

"As any serious scholar of popular culture knows, God put the lower primates on this planet for one purpose: to make people look silly. And what a good job they do. When it comes to metaphors for human folly, nothing beats a monkey." Movies Can't Ape Censor Board Monkeyshines, The Toronto Star, Jun 23, 2000.

This week's theme: words about words.


My library / Was dukedom large enough. -William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist (1564-1616)

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