what is a metaphor?

Oh, Jesus. Metaphors. Okay. First, put away your freshman lit books. We’re not going to do any of that forest-as-death, snow-as-purity, everything-else-as-penis stuff here at Wordmonster. That shit is tedious.*

Metaphors are not just for poets and grouchy shut-in novelists. We all use metaphors all the time.

So here’s your definition: A metaphor is a comparison of one thing to a completely different thing that shows what the two things have in common. Sometimes it’s a direct comparison, like “Dick Cheney is a weasel.” Sometimes it’s more subtle. We say a conversation “derails” and it calls to mind a train careening off the tracks. Or we talk about the “flow” of information and we think of a river, or whatever.

The name of everything on your computer screen is a metaphor. You have a desktop with files and folders on it. If you don’t want a file anymore, you put it in the trash.

Metaphors can helps us organize our thoughts, but they can also turn us into raging assholes. We’ll talk more about that later.

*The only thing more tedious than the aforementioned shit is the small but vocal percentage of you who are thinking, “Those aren’t metaphors! Those are similes.” I have two things to say to this group: 1. They are metaphors. You know how not every woman is a mother, but every mother is a woman? It’s the same thing with metaphors and similes. Not every metaphor is a simile, but every simile is a metaphor. 2. No one likes you.