A concise overview of 4000 picturesque idiomatic expressions normally used subconsciously and an annotated listing to be enjoyed by all lovers of words
THE BOOK THAT LEAVES NO STONE UNTURNED
The modern English language is remarkably full of metaphors. These occur constantly in ordinary conversation, in newspapers, on radio and on television, as well as in more serious literature. Metaphors improve speech and writing by conveying shades of meaning more succinctly than ordinary phrases.
This fascinating book discusses the subject in some detail. An entertaining introduction leads into a dictionary of metaphors, a thematic section and a thesaurus.
It contains some 17,000 alphabetical entries listing over 4,000 different metaphors commonly found in current use and setting out their meanings in an easily read and popular style.
This handy word-book with its highly original format will appeal to all lovers of language, as well as to writers, editors, publishers, students, migrants and those engaged in public speaking.
It also provides raw material for many specialist applications, including party games, advertising copy, church sermons, English as a second language and crossword puzzles. Some fascinating Australian phrases are also presented.
The book, which is the only specialist work focusing exclusively on metaphors, also contains a short discussion of metaphors derived from religious sources. It features numerous metaphors from the Bible with their citations, showing that for better or worse current English has been influenced by the words of believers.
This new edition is a revised and expanded version of its predecessors which include Metaphorically Speaking, published in New York by Warner Books. Further notes on metaphors and illustrations of their use have been added to the text. With minor exceptions all the metaphors listed are commonly found in current usage.
This work is an essential reference tool not only for general readers but also for libraries and educational institutions.
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FROM THE FOREWORD
by Dame Leonie Kramer
"Here is a dictionary and thesaurus of metaphors which is both a practical guide to meaning and a stimulus to enquiry. Only a person in love with words could have compiled it."
WHAT IS A METAPHOR?
A cynic once defined a metaphor as "a simile with the words of comparison left out".
Less frivolously, the Concise Oxford Dictionary puts it as the "application of a name or descriptive term to an object to which it is not literally applicable".
The word is derived from two Greek roots - meta (with, after) and pherein (bear) - which, in combination, denote "transfer" (of meaning).
Many metaphors involve colourful analogies. Every day one talks of "missing the bus", of "being in the same boat" as someone else, of "getting down to brass tacks", or of "not having a crystal ball".
People are always "getting a feather in their cap", "earning brownie points", "building bridges", "clasping at straws", "muddying the waters", "cutting the Gordian knot", and "missing something by a whisker".
For the most part such figures of speech involve combinations of words sounding very familiar to their audience, and their non-literal use is quite subconscious.
HOW THIS BOOK CAN BE USED
One enthusiastic reader of an earlier edition of this book, Sharon Benson of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, has provided an overview of how she used it. It is reproduced below with her permission, as it may be helpful to others working in similar fields.
She is a writer who works in the corporate and promotional realm. Her company helps businesses to communicate with other businesses and with customers or prospective customers. She also assists organisations wishing to relay information to their stakeholders. Typically, her output includes advertising copy, brochures, annual reports, speeches, films, and videos.
I can imagine that you would be interested in feedback on your book. The research and assemblage of all these metaphorical expressions must have been a Herculean task; rest assured that your efforts have not gone unappreciated!
I've never tried to describe the process I go through when writing, but generally here's how I might use your book when creating copy for a client. I use a process called mind-mapping when I write. Meaning, I develop a core idea and then let my mind wander along whatever roads it wishes to travel in order to develop that idea. The dictionary, thematic and thesaurus structure of your book all help when I reach a dead end.
For example, I recently created a corporate overview for a technology based firm where I used the headline "Stop, Look and Listen" to introduce prospective customers to a disparate product line that includes security alarm systems and asset management tools.
I played with lines such as "right up your alley" and "middle of the road" within the body copy and then looked in your book for expressions that conveyed the intent of each product. The result? Crisp, creative copy that thrilled the client and made me look good.
FROM THE CHATSWOOD EARLY RISERS TOASTMASTERS NEWSLETTER, March 2006:
A superb reference book for your home library is Nick Renton's Metaphors - a dictionary of 4,000 picturesque idiomatic expressions. Cost is approximately $30, and a worthwhile addition to your reference book collection. Try and use a metaphor in your next speech.
COMMENTS BY AN ENTHUSIAST FOR METAPHORS
James R Brayshaw of
Satan wrote: "In my own book I quote from your book and advocate it as an excellent source for metaphor inquirers. I appreciate your work."
In his own book he says: "Metaphor use is and always has been a common tool of communication. If someone does not understand the metaphors of his or her culture then that person is destined to misinterpret a large amount of what is spoken in the culture. Think, for instance, if there were not a common understanding of such colloquial terminology as `Cat got your tongue?'
"In regard to common metaphors, one available resource is Renton's Metaphors, a Dictionary of over 4000 Picturesque Idiomatic Expressions."
Quoting from that book's Foreword he concludes: "For the most part such figures of speech involve combinations of words sounding very familiar to their audience, and their non-literal use is quite subconscious."
He goes on: "Reading the above statement from Renton shows us how unquestionable it is to state that we communicate using metaphors. Metaphor use not only takes place in our own culture but also it is the way of communication in all cultures.
"Idiomatic usage of terms and phrases are a dime a dozen, to use a metaphor.
"A fairly simple Biblical idiom for the present day culture to understand as a statement that does not mean what the words literally say is seen when Yeshua celebrates the Passover with His disciples on the night he was betrayed. Yeshua calls the wine that is being consumed at the Passover His blood and tells the disciples to drink it. In essence, He is saying, `drink my blood'. Imagine taking these words literally! Some people have, and doing so has led them to accusing the believers in the Messiah of being cannibals. This metaphor is found in Mark 14:23-24."
2 Sources of Metaphors
3 The Metaphor in Daily Use
4 Metaphors in Various Categories
5 Metaphors Expressing Ideas in Certain Subject Areas
6 Selected Case Studies
7 Some Grammatical Aspects
8 Australian Metaphors
Part I Dictionary:
Metaphors arranged alphabetically by Keyword
Part II Thematic Section:
Metaphors in various Categories
and many more
Part III Thesaurus:
Metaphors expressing Ideas in certain Subject Areas
and many more
1 "Yes, Prime Minister"
2 Some figurative Computer Terms
3 Material for Party Games
4 Examples of Australian Metaphors