Extended metaphor

Extended metaphor

An extended metaphor, also called a conceit, is a metaphor that continues into the sentences that follow. An extended metaphor is also a metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work. Extended metaphors are especially effective in poems and fiction. Western usage of extended metaphors is thought to have originally been a product of the Renaissance. (However, the comedies of Aristophanes, written 2000 years ago, often make use of extended metaphors. For example, in his play The Acharnians, the hero Dicaeopolis is poured some wine symbolizing Peace into his wine-flask, and keeps it for the rest of the play, refusing to share any of it with most of those who ask him for some.


  • If one starts with the metaphor of "The seeds of discontent have already been sown", an extension could be "It remains to see whether weed or flower will spring forth."
  • "The winds were ocean waves, thrashing against the trees' limbs. The gales remained thereafter, only ceasing when the sun went down. Their waves clashed brilliantly with the water beneath, bringing foam and dying leaves to the shore."
  • :In this case, the extension would then be the second two sentences, "The gales remained thereafter, only ceasing... and dying leaves to the shore."
  • Also, many fables and fairy tales are often extended metaphors.
  • :Such as short stories like "Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy" by Tim O'Brien

Extended metaphors break into two types: implicit and explicit. Implicit means that the poem doesn't state what one of the objects you are comparing is. Explicit means that the poem clearly state the two comparison items; e.g. "He is a pig."

Extended metaphor poems are generally categorized into three groups: of metaphors, is metaphors, and adjacent noun metaphors. An "of metaphor" is a metaphor consisting of the pattern "She is the love of my life". An "is metaphor" is more profound version of "of metaphors". These shorten the previous example to "She is love." An adjacent noun poem is a less common category. It uses two unrelated nouns to create a vivid image. Adjacent noun poems are usually light-hearted and entertaining.

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