Definition of "figurative" []

  • Based on or making use of figures of speech; metaphorical: figurative language. (adjective)
  • Containing many figures of speech; ornate. (adjective)
  • Represented by a figure or resemblance; symbolic or emblematic. (adjective)
  • Of or relating to artistic representation by means of animal or human figures. (adjective)
  • Of the nature of, resembling, or involving a figure of speech; not literal; metaphorical (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

  • Using or filled with figures of speech (adjective)
  • Representing by means of an emblem, likeness, figure, etc (adjective)
  • (in painting, sculpture, etc) of, relating to, or characterized by the naturalistic representation of the external world (adjective) (c) HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 2016

Use "figurative" in a sentence
  • "If we inquire for those texts of Scripture which represent the earth as the immovable center of the universe, we shall be referred to the figurative language of the Psalms, the book of Job, and other poetical parts of Scripture, which speak of the "foundations of the earth," "the earth being established," "abiding for ever," and the like, when the slightest attention to the language would show _that it is intended to be figurative_."
  • "The two main figurative mosaics upon the ambo depict Jonah and the whale, with the one side showing his being swallowed by the whale, and the other, his being released -- Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him [Jesus], saying: Master, we would see a sign from thee."
  • "You mean the government that enslaved and brutalized blacks, kept women in figurative shackles, founded more than one unnecessary war on falsehoods, detained innocents without charge (sometimes torturing them to the point of death) for years, loosed trigger-happy mercenaries on innocent civilians ...?"