What Are Some Figurative Speech Examples?

Examples of figurative speech include similes, metaphors, personification and hyperbole. Figurative language, often a part of literature and everyday speech, includes word choices that are not to be taken literally but occur to make a point or to emphasize an idea. “You are a peach” is an example of figurative speech because a person is not literally a piece of fruit but can be very sweet.

An example of figurative speech in the form of a simile from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens is “Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.” A simile compares two unlike things employing the words “like” or “as.” In this example, Scrooge compares his old deceased partner to a doornail, which has no life in it.

The poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes is based on a metaphor in which the mother tells her child, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. / It’s had tacks in it….” The mother says her hard life is the opposite of a crystal staircase where everything is clear and smooth. A metaphor compares two unlike things without using the word “like” or “as.”

A personification gives non-humans human traits. In Act II, scene III of “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, Friar Laurence says, “The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,” giving morning the human ability to smile and night the ability to frown.

Hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration, used for its effect. In “Old Times on the Mississippi,” Mark Twain wrote, “I was quaking from head to foot, and could have hung my hat on my eyes, they stuck out so far.”