"figure of speech by which a characteristic of one object is assigned to another, different but resembling it or analogous to it; comparison by transference of a descriptive word or phrase," late 15c., methaphoris (plural), from French metaphore (Old French metafore, 13c.) and directly from Latin metaphora, from Greek metaphora "a transfer," especially of the sense of one word to a different word, literally "a carrying over," from metapherein "to transfer, carry over; change, alter; to use a word in a strange sense," from meta "over, across" (see meta-) + pherein "to carry, bear" (from PIE root *bher- (1) "to carry," also "to bear children").
But a metaphor is no argument, though it be sometimes the gunpowder to drive one home and imbed it in the memory. [James Russell Lowell, "Democracy," 1884]
It is a great thing, indeed, to make a proper use of the poetical forms, as also of compounds and strange words. But the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars. [Aristotle, "Poetics," 1459a 3-8]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to carry," also "to bear children."
It forms all or part of: Aberdeen; amphora; anaphora; aquifer; auriferous; bairn; barrow (n.1) "frame for carrying a load;" bear (v.); bearing; Berenice; bier; birth; bring; burden (n.1) "a load;" carboniferous; Christopher; chromatophore; circumference; confer; conference; conifer; cumber; cumbersome; defer (v.2) "yield;" differ; difference; differentiate; efferent; esophagus; euphoria; ferret; fertile; Foraminifera; forbear (v.); fossiliferous; furtive; indifferent; infer; Inverness; Lucifer; metaphor; odoriferous; offer; opprobrium; overbear; paraphernalia; periphery; pestiferous; pheromone; phoresy; phosphorus; Porifera; prefer; proffer; proliferation; pyrophoric; refer; reference; semaphore; somniferous; splendiferous; suffer; transfer; vociferate; vociferous.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit bharati "he carries, brings," bhrtih "a bringing, maintenance;" Avestan baraiti "carries;" Old Persian barantiy "they carry;" Armenian berem "I carry;" Greek pherein "to carry," pherne "dowry;" Latin ferre "to bear, carry," fors (genitive fortis) "chance, luck," perhaps fur "a thief;" Old Irish beru/berim "I catch, I bring forth," beirid "to carry;" Old Welsh beryt "to flow;" Gothic bairan "to carry;" Old English and Old High German beran, Old Norse bera "barrow;" Old Church Slavonic birati "to take;" Russian brat' "to take," bremya "a burden," beremennaya "pregnant."
1936, derogatory slang form of pink (adj.) in the political sense, used of people whose social or political views "have a tendency toward 'red;' " a metaphor that had existed at least since 1837. As an adjective by 1957.
in rhetoric, "comparison, metaphor," according to Century Dictionary, "especially a formal simile, as in poetry or poetic prose, taken from a present or imagined object or event: distinguished from a paradigm, or comparison with a real past event," 1580s, from Greek parabolē "comparison" (see parable).
"an improper or inconsistent metaphor, exceptional or undue extension of a word's meaning" (as "to stone someone with bricks"), 1580s, from Latin catachresis, from Greek katakhresis "misuse" (of a word), from katakhresthai "to misuse," from kata "down" (here with a sense of "perversion;" see cata-) + khresthai "to use" (from PIE root *gher- (2) "to like, want"). Related: Catachrestic; catachrestical; catachrestically.
"to emphasize (something) too much," 1933, a metaphor from card games, in to overplay (one's) hand, "to spoil one's hand by bidding in excess of its value" (1926), from over- + play (v.). Earlier (from 1819) in a theatrical sense, "act (a part) with an extravagant and unnatural manner." Middle English had overpleien in the sense of "to outplay, defeat." Related: Overplayed; overplaying.