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 Definition Expression directing the mind to understand and experience one kind of thing in terms of another. [d] [e]


I find the Intro to Metaphor a bit too abbreviated. I'd like it if it explained more, perhaps exemplified, and if it introduced the broader context of metaphor. Perhaps it needs to wait for the article to develop first. Personal opinions. --Anthony.Sebastian 03:59, 1 April 2009 (UTC)


It seems to me that any discussion of metaphor really should include a discussion of the rather specialized way in which Roman Jakobson talks about metaphor (in opposition to metonymy). Not that I'm really qualified to do so, of course...

I just looked at the WP metaphor article, and they don't have any discussion of Jakobson either. If we did it, it would be one way our article could be made more useful than WP's.

Brian P. Long 04:12, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Lede paragraph

I'm not a college undergraduate, the person for whom, supposedly CZ is being written, but a college grad, in English, moreover, and I think that this lede para *may* be suitable for a doctoral dissertation (meaning that it's essentially unreadable and incomprehensible), but certainly not for a general purpose encycl. Sorry to whoever wrote it -- I'm sure you meant well, but it *really* needs major restructuring.... Hayford Peirce 03:32, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

You take my breath away, or knock me over with a feather, so excellent is the rewrite! Thanks! Hayford Peirce 15:20, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for the initial feedback, and for the compliment on the rewrite. Anthony.Sebastian 03:01, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

Tenor and vehicle

What would you think about adding the terms "tenor" and "vehicle" as synonyms for "target" and "source" in this article? I've always heard those terms rather than the ones that are currently in the article -- are "target/source" used more in linguistics, while "tenor/vehicle" are used more in literary studies, maybe?

It might also be useful to the reader to explain where each pair of terms comes from, and in what contexts they are used. I know (from the New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics) that I.A. Richards introduced, or re-introduced, or resurrected, "tenor and vehicle" in 1936 in his "Philosophy of Rhetoric," but I am ignorant about the other terms (and that reference book doesn't tell me anything about them). Bruce M. Tindall 20:37, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Bruce, I agree a full account of metaphor must include other concepts (metaphors themselves) besides source and target. I plan to do so. Incidentally, re vehicle, the referred to domain tenor, introduced by Richards, has largely given way to topic. See the examples below:

In verbal metaphor, there are usually two explicit parts: a topic, which is the entity being talked about, and the vehicle, which is the metaphoric material being predicated of the topic. (Some authors refer to these as the target and source, respectively.) For example, in Lee is a block of ice, Lee is the topic, and block of ice is the vehicle. The implicit connection between the two is often referred to as the ground. In this case, the ground is that blocks of ice have a cold temperature, and this is interpreted in terms of emotional unresponsiveness. More generally, the relation between temperature and emotion provides the ground. [1]

Central for traditional studies of metaphor is the distinction—introduced originally by Richards (1936)—between the tenor (since Black [1962], called ‘topic’) and the vehicle of a metaphor. Tenor or topic is what is described by the metaphor, while vehicle is the term used to describe the topic. So, in the metaphorical expression ‘Physicians are gods’, ‘physicians’ is the topic, which is described by means of the vehicle ‘gods’. In the CLVM [cognitive linguistic view of metaphor], topic and vehicle become target and source, respectively. This terminological modification obeys Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) claim that metaphor should be looked for not in metaphorical linguistic expressions (such as the example about physicians), but in the conceptual system of the speaker. In other words, metaphor is conceptual, not just linguistic. So, the metaphorical expression ‘You make my blood boil’ is constructed upon a more basic conceptual metaphor, namely: ANGER IS A HOT FLUID IN A CONTAINER (following a long tradition in lexical semantics, cognitive linguists distinguish [simple] words from concepts by writing the latter in capitals). At this conceptual level, a metaphor does not consist of a superficial vehicle substituting or interacting with a superficial topic. Rather, a metaphor is: . . . such a set of correspondences that obtains between a source domain and a target domain, where metaphorical linguistic expressions (i.e., linguistic metaphors) commonly make the conceptual metaphors (i.e., metaphors in the mind) manifest (although there may be conceptual metaphors that have no linguistic metaphors to express them). (Kövecses, p. 27) In this sense, according to the CLVM, most of our abstract concepts are metaphorical: they are grounded in at least one conceptual metaphor. [2]

I happen to like the vehicle/topic idea for some types of metaphor, as it accords with the 'transfer' concept in metaphor's etymology — the 'vehicle' transfers (transport) the source (the metaphorical expression) to the topic, or target. Anthony.Sebastian 23:01, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
  1. Gregory L. Murphy. (1996) On metaphoric representation. Cognition 60:173-204.
  2. Carlos Cornejo. (2007) Review Essay: Conceptualizing Metaphors versus Embodying theLanguage: Kövecses, Zoltán, Metaphor in Culture: Universality and Variation. Culture Psychology 13:474-488.

Block that metaphor, as The New Yorker used to write

Richard Condon, of course, was the master of the lunatic metaphor and simile. As I've just written in the article about The Manchurian Candidate:

Hayford, great piece, well-written, funny. Inspiration for section on 'lunatic metaphors' in Metaphor. What a hoot! Even without 'lunatic metaphors', I find the study of metaphors a bottomless pit with offshoot tunnels every few feet. When I asked my 12-year-old niece, "what's a metaphor?", she answered, "a place for cows to graze". Anthony.Sebastian 01:36, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Stylistic characteristics and Condonian quirks

The novel offers many fine examples of the traits and stylistic tricks that were typical of all of Condon's works, among them, as the playwright George Axelrod once put it, "the madness of his similies, the lunacy of his metaphors".[1] A selection from The Manchurian Candidate:

  • "The sergeant's rage-daubed face would shine like a ripped-out heart flung onto stones in the moonlight," [2]
  • "The sergeant's account of his past was ancient in its form and confusingly dramatic, as perhaps would have been a game of three-level chess between Richard Burbage and Sacha Guidy."[3]
  • "The effects of the narcotics, techniques, and suggestions... achieved a result that approximated the impact an entire twenty-five-cent jar of F. W. Woolworth vanishing cream might have on vanishing an aircraft carrier of the Forrestal class when rubbed into the armor plate."[4]

From his 1975 novel, Money Is Love, comes another fine example: "Mason took in enough cannabis smoke to allow a Lipan Apache manipulating a blanket over it to transmit the complete works of Tennyson." [5]


  1. Reviewing one of Condon's works in the International Herald Tribune; Axelrod was the author of (The Seven-Year Itch and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter), and had collaborated with Condon on the screenplay for the first film adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate,
  2. The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Signet, New York, November, 1962, fifth printing, page 30
  3. The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Signet, New York, November, 1962, fifth printing, page 31
  4. The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Signet, New York, November, 1962, fifth printing, page 261
  5. Time Magazine, "Liederkranz", a book review by John Skow, June 2, 1975

Metaphor and philosophy

This topic has yet to be raised here: here is a link. Something of this is found in Reality#Religion and the discussion of metaphor in Model-dependent_realism#Data_collection. John R. Brews 13:49, 6 February 2012 (UTC)