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02 Dec 09 Writing and Power of Metaphor

Metaphor is a powerful tool used by wise orator, astute politicians, seasoned writer, professional bloggers, etc., to persuade audience to a certain way of thinking. If you want to be successful in persuasive copy and/or content writing then you have to master the art of using proper metaphor.

Metaphor as described by Merriam Webster dictionary is:

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.

Read the following two sentences and tell me which one sounds more compelling to you:

He was silent, very silent, and completely motionless.”

“He was as silent and stationary as the dead.”

Of course, the latter one. The former sentence didn’t have the punch required to make us realize how much the person was silent and how much immobile he was, but once we supply the metaphor of dead, everything becomes clear, as we know how silent and motionless a dead person can be.

Metaphor helps us inject emotion in the written words. It helps us make the passage of texts relatable for the reader. The metaphor makes the read feel what has been written. A proper use of metaphor transforms the text making it meaningful for the readers.


Metaphor is a cultural thing. A wrongly used metaphor will push the audience far, far away. Hence, you should be careful in using it in your writing, and understand the cultural background of the users before infusing a metaphor in your writing.

A metaphor that works well in India may or may not produce the same result in Brazil. Culture plays an important role in it. If you are in doubt, use neutral metaphor. Like the one I have used in above example. No matter where you go, what cultural background you have the dead will be silent and stationary. Similarly, sky in the moonless night will be dark, stuff out of refrigerator will be cold, mid summer’s afternoon will be unbearably hot, etc.

Do not walk the cultural line while using metaphor if you are not sure.

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