Metaphors, Good and Bad

Metaphors make an implied comparison between ideas:  “All the world’s a stage….”

When they work well, they catch your attention in an unforgettable way.  A former editor of the now defunct Saturday Review, Norman Cousins, wrote, “…the wordsmith likes the clink and purr of words against each other. He likes the crackle of ideas well expressed. He delights, as some men do in thoroughbred horses and racing hulls, in prose that runs sleek and true to its conclusion.”  Despite the archaic use of the male pronouns, Cousins’ metaphor is ear-catching and lovely and true.

Other metaphors are also memorable, but not in the way their authors intended. Joe Garagiola said, “Nolan Ryan is pitching a lot better now that he’s got his curve ball straightened out.” Richard Nixon’s brother Donald referred to Watergate as “a political football to bury my brother.”

By all means, include metaphors in your writing. Just make sure they won’t be making others laugh unless you intended that result.

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

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