1. of the nature of or involving a figure of speech, especially a metaphor; metaphorical and not literal: The word “head” has several figurative senses, as in “She’s the head of the company.”
  2. metaphorically so called: His remark was a figurative boomerang.
  3. abounding in or fond of figures of speech: Elizabethan poetry is highly figurative.
  4. representing by means of a figure or likeness, as in drawing or sculpture.
  5. representing by a figure or emblem; emblematic.


  1. of the nature of, resembling, or involving a figure of speech; not literal; metaphorical
  2. using or filled with figures of speech
  3. representing by means of an emblem, likeness, figure, etc
  4. (in painting, sculpture, etc) of, relating to, or characterized by the naturalistic representation of the external world

late 14c., from Old French figuratif “metaphorical,” from Late Latin figurativus, from figurat-, past participle stem of figurare “to form, shape,” from figura “a shape, form, figure” (see figure (n.)). Of speech, language, etc., “involving figures of speech,” from 1845. Related: Figuratively.

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