Definition: A metaphor is a figure of speech which makes an implied and/or extended comparison between things that are unrelated and unalike but share some common characteristics. A metaphor is a phrase that illustrates a person, thing, place, or action as being something else, but that subject is not actually that something else. It is a term that refers to one thing by mentioning another for rhetorical effect. Metaphors typically illustrate hidden similarities between two subjects.

Example: “Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord,through church and state, through poetry, philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality” (Walden 73).

This metaphor compares the opinions, judgments, and fabrications of society, all throughout the world, to thick, deep mud. Through this metaphor, we are able to sense the difficulty and hard work it would take to get through to the bottom of that “mud” and ascertain the truths of the world we ought to be focusing on, which lies past those lies and corruptions of society.