World's Top 8 Largest Metaphors

metaphors and copywriting

“I see!” These two words are the universal refrain we all exclaim when understanding the abstract stated in concrete terms. Welcome to the metaphor — a literary device that compares one thing as another. In the poster above, I used a meditation figure above the woman’s head to illustrate the calming effect of a particular cup of Chinese tea.

In the communicator’s toolkit of literary devices, the metaphor is a revered tool. And if you don’t know your Greek, metaphor means ‘to carry across or beyond’ (meta (beyond) and phero (to carry). If you still need a clearer picture of what a metaphor looks like, how about “writing pictures”? That’s what making metaphors is all about — translating abstract concepts into concrete visuals.

There is a galaxy of off-the-shelf metaphors we can use in our daily writings and speech. Hang on, I’ve just realized that this is a mixed metaphor — galaxy and wardrobe. That’s a no-no unless you’re looking for a cheap laugh. Let me re-write this again … There is a galaxy of existing metaphors we can shoot for in our daily writings and speech.

But, of course, the best metaphor is an original metaphor. Afterall, every existing metaphor was once original itself. And the best of them are used time and time again. So much so that they then become a cliché.

As stated earlier, there is a galaxy of metaphors orbiting the writersphere, but this post lists the Top 8, ending with the toppest of the tops.

8: The Blank Canvas

“Life is like a blank canvas, and you are the artist.” In other words, you are facing a situation in which nothing has yet been planned or decided. It is a pivotal moment when you are as free as an artist to decide what should happen or be done.

7: The Elephant

“The elephant in the room” metaphors what’s not being addressed or answered. It could be an important topic, a question, or a controversial issue that’s obvious to everybody, but nobody dares raise it for fear of reprisal or discomfort.

6: The Chess Board

The chessboard metaphor can be interpreted in many ways to describe two opposing or conflicting forces at play. It’s literally a very black and white view requiring strategies, foresight and patience to overcome the other side (of you, them or it).

5: The Roller Coaster

Hang on tight because “life is like a roller coaster ride”. It has its ups and its downs; and can be super scary and yet very exciting. There are many sudden or extreme changes punctuated by periods of calm or drag until … you’re up, down and all around again.

4: The Fork in the Road

This metaphor is derived from the literal expression of a road that divides into two opposite directions. You have arrived at a decisive moment in life or history when you must make a choice and, once made, cannot be reversed. Which brings us to the river Rubicon.

3: The Rubicon

“Crossing the Rubicon” means passing a point of no return. It alludes to Julius Caesar and his army crossing the river Rubicon in early January 49 BC. By doing so, he triggered a five-year civil war in Rome. This ended well for Caesar: he became dictator for life.

2: The Stage

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” so goes Jacques’ famous speech in Shaespeare’s As You Like It [Act II; Scene VII; Line 139] He compares life with theatre and we are all just living to a preordained script (God, karma, cause and effect). He also takes it to another level by musing on the seven stages of person’s life.

1: The Titanic

World’s Largest Metaphor Hits Ice-Berg read the headline for April 16, 1912, the day after the Titanic sank in icy water in the North Atlantic. Ever since, she has sailed on as a metaphor for politics, religion, catastrophe, hubris and any other folly known to mankind.

Some point to the number of celebrities on board for the ship’s metaphorical status — the Cardezas, the Guggenheims, the Widenders, the Thayers, the Astors, and their well-heeled ilk.

What makes the Titanic such a unique, poignant and powerful image is that she was brand new, and on her maiden voyage. This made the event not only incredible but also supernatural — something deployed from pulpits all over Britain and America when religion was still mightier than reason.

Many used the Titanic to symbolise the irony of hubris, pathos and arrogance. Enough to inspire the simile of likening a futile human activity to the re-arranging of deckchairs on the Titanic.

Then there’s the iceberg. A passive bystander just minding its own business when the ship crashes into it. This small representative of nature supersizes the metaphorical power to global proportions. This metaphor will surely remain the gift that keeps giving until the next big metaphor happens.

But for now, my online copywriting course’s latest timetable is up and running and ready to take your booking now. It’s still the one copywriting course that makes you great at writing for all types of media.

world's largest metaphor