A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily applies to one kind of experience or phenomenon is applied to another, thereby suggesting a similarity or likeness between them. Metaphors have the general form A is B, in which A serves as the metaphor's tenor and B serves as the metaphor's vehicle. Tenors and vehicles can be related explicitly through a declarative sentence, but they often are related implicitly in discourse. For example, a person could say "Dating is a game," in which the tenor, dating, and the vehicle, game, are explicitly related. Alternatively, someone could talk about dating experiences and refer to "winning some and losing some," "the fun of the chase," and "scoring points"—all references that evoke implicitly the vehicle of a game.
We all know what getting to first base means, and I hope we all know what counts as a home run, but those second and third base definitions can get kind of tricky. I say we settle and define them! I don't know about you, but I love baseball. Hello, tight white pants! And I'm thrilled that a sport I actually understand plays host to some of the best sexual innuendo around. A few weeks back, we helped a reader who wasn't sure about having the exclusive talk with her guy. When she mentioned they'd gone to second base, we all had different ideas about what it involved.
It's in English class that most Americans learn about metaphors — and yet metaphoric language abounds in our daily life. Just think of the word crush : That's a metaphor to describe the overwhelming, crushing sensation we feel when we really, really no I mean really like a person. Even email is a metaphor: It's comparing the digital communications that come into our "inbox" on the screen to the envelopes delivered to our homes every day by the postal service. Thinking of just how many metaphors we use on a daily basis can be pretty fun — if you're slightly geeky like me, anyway.
As Brooke Stewart stood in line recently at the Market Basket deli, her mind drifted to those days before the pandemic, when she used to wait in line to get into nightclubs. The year-old artist noted the similarity between queuing up to select meat and lining up along the sidewalk with other singles who hoped to find a partner. As many businesses shut down, Stewart found herself spending more and more time inside the supermarket.