The figurative meaning of the word: examples. Words in both literal and figurative meaning

Many words in Russian have both direct and figurative meaning. What this phenomenon is, how to define a word in a figurative sense and how this transfer occurs, we will talk in our article.

On the direct and figurative meaning of the word

Even from the elementary grades of the school, we know that words in Russian have a direct meaning, that is, a basic meaning that directly relates to an object or phenomenon. For example, for the noun "exit"this is “an opening in a wall or fence through which you can leave a closed space" (Anotherexithid in the courtyard behind the secret door).figurative meaning of the word

But besides the direct, there is a figurative meaning of the word. Examples of such values ​​in a single lexical unit are often numerous. So, the same word "exit"this:

1) a way to get rid of the problem (Finally, we came up with a decentexitfrom the situation);

2) the amount of production (as a resultexitdetails turned out to be slightly lower than expected);

3) appearance on the scene (Exitthe main character was greeted with an ovation);

4) rock outcrop (In this placeexitlimestone made the rocks almost white).

What affects the transfer of the meaning of the word

Depending on the characteristic with which it is possible to associate the transfer of the name of one subject to another, linguists distinguish three types of it:

  1. Metaphor (transfer is associated with the similarity of signs of different objects).
  2. Metonymy (based on the adjacency of subjects).
  3. Synecdoche (transfer of the general meaning to its part).

Separately, the figurative meaning of the word is considered by the similarity of functions.

Now let's take a closer look at each of these types.figurative word

What is a metaphor

As mentioned above, metaphor is the transfer of meaning, based on the similarity of signs. For example, if objects are similar in shape (the dome of the building is the dome of the sky) or in color (the golden ornament is the golden sun).

Metaphor also implies the similarity of other values:

  • by function (a hearthuman - the main bodya heartcities - the main district);
  • the nature of the sound (grumblesold woman -grumbleskettle on the stove);
  • by location (tailanimal -tailtrains);
  • on other grounds (greenI am young - not mature;deeplonging - it is difficult to get out of it;silkhair is smooth;softlook - nice).

The figurative meaning of a word in the case of metaphor can also be based on the animation of inanimate objects, and vice versa. For example: whispering foliage, tender warmth, nerves of steel, empty eyes, etc.

Metaphorical rethinking based on the convergence of objects according to seemingly different signs are also frequent: gray mouse - gray fog - gray day - gray thoughts; a sharp knife - a sharp mind - a sharp eye - sharp corners (dangerous events) in life.


Another trope that uses words used in a figurative sensethis is metonymy.It is possible under the condition of contiguity of concepts. For example, transfer of the name of the room (the class) for a group of children in it (the classrose to meet the teacher) is a metonymy. The same happens when transferring the name of the action to its result (to engagebakingbread - freshbakery products) or properties on their owner (havebass- ariu sang talentedbass).figurative meaning of the word examples

According to the same principles, the author’s name is transferred to his works (Gogol- put in the theaterGogol;Bach- listenBaha) or container names for contents (plate- he alreadytwo platesate). Adjacency (proximity) is monitored when transferring the name of the material to a product made from it (silk- she isin silkswent) or tools for the person working with him (spit- see herespitwalked).

Metonymy is an important method of word formation process.

With the help of metonymy, any word in a figurative sense acquires more and more new semantic loads. For example, the word "node "back in antiquity it turned out by transferring the meaning of "a rectangular piece of matter into which some objects are tied" (takeknot). But today, in the dictionaries, other meanings have been added to it, which appeared by means of metonymy:

  • a place where intersect, converge lines of roads or rivers;
  • part of the mechanism, consisting of tightly interacting parts;
  • important place where something is concentrated.

Thus, as you can see, the new figurative meaning of words, which emerged with the help of metonymy, serves to develop vocabulary. By the way, it also allows you to save speech effort, as it makes it possible to replace the whole descriptive construct with just one word. For example: “earlyChekhov"Instead of" Chekhov in the early period of his work "or"lecture hall"Instead of" people sitting indoors and listening to the lecturer. "

One of the varieties of metonymy in linguistics is considered to be synecdoche.words figuratively examples

What is synecdoche

Words in a figurative sense, examples of which were given earlier, acquired a new meaning due to some similarity or proximity of concepts. A synecdoche is a way of indicating an object through the mention of its characteristic detail or distinctive feature. That is, as mentioned above, this is a transfer of the general meaning of a word to its part.

We give some of the most common types of this trail.

  1. Parts of the object or phenomenon are called in the meaning of the whole. “Everyone has gathered herewhite aprons". (Referring to the waitresses).
  2. The whole is used in the meaning of the part. "Berrynow it’s not at all what it used to be - some kind of sour. "
  3. The single number is used in the meaning of the universal. "Ahuman, even ascending to heaven, must not forget about the Earth that nurtured it. ”
  4. Substitution of the generic concept of species. "Cornfrom time immemorial it was considered our main wealth. " (Instead of the broad concept of rye, wheat or cereals, the narrower is used - the grain).
  5. Replacing species values ​​generic. "And at night a round cloudy will come to the skylightprobably trying to replace the flashlight. ” (Instead of a narrower concept, the moon used a generic generic - star).words used in a figurative sense

How and when is used synecdoche

A synecdoche always depends on the context or situation, and in order to understand which words are used in a figurative sense, the author must first describe the hero or his environment. For example, it is difficult to determine from the sentence that was taken out of context, which one is talking about: “Beardblew smoke out of a clay pipe. ” But from the previous story, everything becomes clear: "Next to the view of an experienced sailor was a man with a thick beard."

Thus, the synecdoche can be called an anaphoric implant-oriented path. The designation of the subject by its characteristic details is used in colloquial speech and in artistic texts to give them grotesque or humorous coloring.

The figurative meaning of a word: examples of transfer by function similarity

Some linguists consider separately the transfer of meaning, under which the condition that the phenomena have the same functions is satisfied. For example, a janitor is a person who suggests cleanliness in the yard, and a janitor in a car is a device for cleaning windows.

Also, there was a new meaning for the word "counter", used in the sense of "person counting something." Now the counter is also a device.

Depending on which words in a figurative meaning arise as a result of the named process, their associative connection with the original meaning may disappear altogether with time.figurative meaning of multiple words

How sometimes the process of transfer affects the basic meaning of the word

As already mentioned, as portable values ​​develop, a word can expand its meaning. For example, the noun "the basis"Meant only:" a longitudinal thread running along the fabric web. " But as a result of the transfer, this meaning has expanded and added to it: “the main part, the essence of something”, and also “the part of the word without ending”.

Yes, the resulting figurative meaning of multi-valued words leads to an increase in theirexpressive properties and contributes to the development of the language as a whole, but it is interesting that while some of the meanings of the word become obsolete, are not taken out of use. For example, the word "natureThere are several meanings:

  1. Nature (Naturelures me with his purity).
  2. Human temperament (passionatenature).
  3. Natural conditions, setting (picturefrom nature).
  4. Replacing money with goods or products (payin kind).

But the first of the listed meanings, with which, by the way, the given word was borrowed from the French language, is already outdated, in the dictionaries it is denoted by the note “out of date”. The rest, developed through a transfer based on it, are actively functioning in our time.literal and figurative words

How words are used in a figurative sense: examples

Words in a figurative sense are often used as an expressive means of fiction, media, as well as in advertising. In the latter case, the method of deliberately pushing different meanings of one word in the subtext is very popular. So, about mineral water advertising says: "The source of vigor." The same technique is seen in the slogan to the shoe cream: "Brilliant protection."

The authors of the works of art, in order to impart to them brightness and figurativeness, use not only the already known figurative meaning of words, but also create their own versions of metaphors. For example, Blok has “silence in bloom” or in Yesenin — birch Russia, which has become very popular over time.

There are also words in which the transfer of meaning has become “dry”, “erased”. As a rule, we use these words not to convey attitudes to something, but to name an action or object (go to the goal, bow of the boat, back of a chair, etc.). In lexicology, they are called nominative metaphors, and in dictionaries, by the way, are not designated as a figurative meaning.

Incorrect use of words in a figurative sense

In order for words in the literal and figurative meaning to always appear in the text in their places and to be justified, it is necessary to follow the rules of their use.which words are used in a figurative sense

It should be remembered that the use of metaphor requires the presence of similarities in the attributes of the object name and in the meaning of the word applied to it. Meanwhile, this is not always respected, and the image used as a metaphor sometimes does not cause the necessary associations and remains unclear.For example, a journalist, speaking of the ski race, calls it a "ski corrida" or, reporting about inanimate objects, designates their number as a duet, trio or quartet.

Such a pursuit of “prettiness” leads to the opposite result, forcing the reader to wonder and sometimes laugh, as in the case when Tolstoy’s portrait was said: “Tolstoy hung in the office by the window”.

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