metaphor [Gr.,=transfer], in rhetoric, a figure of speech in which one class of things is referred to as if it belonged to another class. Whereas a simile states that A is like B, a metaphor states that A is B or substitutes B for A. Some metaphors are explicit, like Shakespeare's line from As You Like It: "All the world's a stage." A metaphor can also be implicit, as in Shakespeare's Sonnet LXXIII, where old age is indicated by a description of autumn:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
  Where yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
  Bare ruined choirs, where once the sweet birds sang.

A dead metaphor, such as "the arm" of a chair, is one that has become so common that it is no longer considered a metaphor.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Metaphor: Selected full-text books and articles

Metaphor By David Punter Taylor & Francis Ltd., 2007
Metaphor: A Practical Introduction By Zoltán Kövecses Oxford University Press, 2002
The Language of Metaphors By Andrew Goatly Routledge, 1997
Metaphor: Implications and Applications By Jeffery Scott Mio; Albert N. Katz Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996
The Depictive Image: Metaphor and Literary Experience By Phillip Stambovsky University of Massachusetts Press, 1988
Metaphor and Symbol By L. C. Knights; Basil Cottle Butterworths Scientific, 1960
The Myth of Metaphor By Colin Murry Turbayne Yale University Press, 1962
Metaphor and Religious Language By Janet Martin Soskice Clarendon Press, 1987
Cold War Rhetoric: Strategy, Metaphor, and Ideology By Martin J. Medhurst; Robert L. Ivie; Philip Wander; Robert L. Scott Michigan State University Press, 1997 (Revised edition)
Objects of Metaphor By Samuel Guttenplan Clarendon Press, 2005
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