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figurative (adj) (of words, phrases, etc.) used differently from their usual meaning.
When a word or a phrase is used with a meaning different from its usual meaning, the use of the word is figurative. When you refer to the camel as the ship of the desert, you are using the word 'ship' in the phrase in a figurative way. 'He is up to his neck in debts,' is a figurative way of saying that he is deeply in debts.
- Henry often talks in a figurative manner. The other day, however, he was bowled over by the figurative expression used by his friend. 'Bowled over,' here is a figurative expression meaning, 'surprised and impressed.'
- 'She sailed into the room,' is a figurative way of saying that she entered the room confidently and gracefully.