All English Words are Always Metaphors

Nah. I reckon I’d be pretty stoked about it. I mean, what a pisser!

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Oh yes, I forgot to mention the bit about how people have been using literally in this way for a long time, and one of the “kids” that need to get off the literally-snobs lawn is Mark Twain.


Although I personally agree with @Kimmo on this argument, I refuse to become Sisyphus and pretend I can stop the evolution of the world’s most volatile language–English–because my opinion is right, dammit! Particularly in the internet age. People are going to say what feels comfortable to them, and all logic is out the window. Language in the age of communication is mob rule. Full stop.

Consider that the proper, logical English idiom for the sentiment also expressed as “guess again” is “you’ve got another think coming.” That’s “think” with a K. Not “thing.” Now, maybe you already knew this, but you must be aware that you are in the tiniest minority. In my 40 years as a native English speaker (and one that identifies as a “word nerd,”) I’ve never said it correctly. Moreover, I’ve never heard anyone else say it correctly, nor have I seen anyone write it correctly.

Even though, thanks (?) to the internet, I now know that “you’ve got another thing coming” is illogical, there is absolutely no way I’m going to start saying it “properly” as “think.”

In 50 years or so, there will no longer be any debate about the usage of “literally.” It will be in the dictionary and the school textbooks as a metaphor–assuming it isn’t already.

My favourites:

Its “toe the line” not “tow the line.” The idea is that you would stand in a horizontal line with everyone else, hence have your toes on the line. The idea that you are hauling the same line (rope) as everyone else has the exact same metaphorical meaning.

“The die is cast” was an expression that I and many people I knew thought of as meaning that a die (singular of dice) has been cast (thrown) - thus the meaning being that the result was up to fate or chance now. The actual meaning is the die (as in mould) has been cast (as in set in final form) - so basically that the outcome could not be changed. But of course, both mean “there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

But I actually say “think” in “another think coming.” You just need to awkwardly pause.


Er, no. The quote attributed to Caesar and recorded in Latin and Greek has no ambiguity - it definitely refers to the gambling kind of die.

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The French version is “les jeux sont faits” and is heard in Monaco gambling houses to this day.

Aha! So I’ve been misled once again! Anyway, I can still enjoy the double meaning, even if one of them is entirely in my head.


hmm. I suppose people could have been saying it correctly to me and I didn’t know due to that syllable not being emphasized within that particular phrase. but I still say the correct usage is in the minority. good on you for knowing it.

I knew about the spelling of “toe the line” but not it’s derivation. However, I was fully aware of “the die is cast,” including it’s canonization due to it is what Caesar said as he led his troops across the Rubicon into Rome (though, to my mind, his utterance of such a killer line at such a historic moment is likely to be apocryphal.)

EDIT: guess I shoulda read Buccaneer’s post before I replied (∘=̴⃙̀˘︷˘=̴⃙́∘)

This is one bad post.

My feet crunched the leaves.
The pudding went splat.
The falling anvil went thud.


English is a metaphorically highly flexible language, as opposed to Mandarin, German and French. Russian is also highly metaphorical. The flexibility in usage lends itself to greater and better communication and understanding of meaning and intent, rather than an instructive delivery of precision.

That doesn’t mean I think anyone is any smarter than anyone else.

I find it fair to say “I literally exploded when I heard that”, as “I metaphorically exploded” renders too evident, in a kind of Germanic way, the desire to communicate the inherent fallacy as a descriptive embellishment to the statement. “Metaphorically exploded” undermines the intended fun.

[Rereads title of post, having forgotten all about it.]

Okaaay. So, you’re not a fan of hyperbole then. I guess I have only one question, “Were you speaking literally, or figuratively, when you said, ‘Always’?”

Literally literally, always always.

Well, not entirely; I had the idea that the die being cast was actually a mould too.

I’m figuratively bored to death

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You all make excellent points, but I’m going to just go ahead and declare the language delightfully broken. Everything else is just a matter of what you choose to get mad about

Now that literally includes figuratively, that clearly also means that every word used in every metaphor is now a metaphor for itself.

Also, everything else.

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