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Speaker’s Corner

Glänzen Sie durch Ihr Englisch

Metaphern? Sind die nicht nur was für Dichter? No way! Von der Rede über den Songtext bis zur Werbung: Metaphern spielen überall eine Rolle. Warum das so ist und wie Sie sich neue Metaphern am besten aneignen, das erfahren Sie jetzt.

Erweitern Sie Ihren Wortschatz: Metaphern

aus: „Ol’ Man River”  (Jerome Kern + Oscar Hammerstein II)

Ol‘ Man River,
Dat Ol‘ Man River,
He mus’ know something’,
But don’ say nothin’;
He jus’ keeps rollin’,
He keeps on rollin’ along.

Poetry is not for everyone – but songs are. Y ou can find metaphors in the lyrics of almost every song because metaphors are the most powerful and thrilling pictures a language provides. This is why metaphors are used in very many other contexts, as we will see a little later. But first of all ...

Metapher und „simile”

... we have to sort out the difference between metaphor and simile. Similes – pronounced: [‘simili] – and metaphors are both figures of speech which compare two things. But:

A simile uses “as” or “like”, whereas a metaphor doesn’t. Therefore, a metaphor is a condensed simile. Simile: “A is like B”, Metaphor: “A is B.”

Wo Sie Metaphern einsetzen können

The direct emotional appeal of pictures to our heart is the reason why so many metaphors can be found in poems, song lyrics, speeches, ads – and in everyday language.


If you have to write or make a speech, try to find one convincing metaphor to sum up your message. Take a look at famous speakers and see how they create a powerful picture by using, developing and exploring metaphors that have endured, e.g.

  • Ich bin ein Berliner” (J. F. Kennedy)
  • “That‘s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong) 
  • “I have a dream.” (Martin Luther King)


In adverts, you try to get your message across in as few words as possible and at the same time create alasting impression . A metaphor is the perfect means to accomplish these two things. Get your inspiration from slogans like:

  • The sunshine breakfast. (Kelloggs)
  • Put a tiger in your tank. (Esso)
  • There’s a smile in every Hershey Bar. (Hershey)


Not surprisingly, metaphors are also a vivid part of everyday language. Take a look at these – and try to think of others you know:

  • She wasn’t able to break the ice.
  • This is the root of the problem. 
  • They had a rocky start but now they are of one mind. 
  • Our investigation threw some light on the issue of the missing money.

Exercise: Kennen Sie diese Metaphern?

Please complete the following metaphorical expressions.

1. He worked his fingers to the ________________.
2. When she saw the murderer she was __________ with fear.
3. His words were _______ to my ears.
4. My ideas on how to improve our filing system are beginning to bear _______.
5. She didn‘t want to get caught in the _________ of her co-workers dispute.

Now, can you also translate the sentences? Please use German metaphors if possible!

1. _________________________________________
2. _________________________________________
3. _________________________________________
4. _________________________________________
5. _________________________________________
6. _________________________________________

Dead metaphors (have you noticed that this is a metaphor itself?) are metaphors which have lost their figurative quality so native speakers don’t recognise them as metaphors any longer. Some examples are: chair leg – Stuhlbein, family tree – Stammbaum, arm/branch of a river – Flussarm, skyscraper – Wolkenkratzer.

So erweitern Sie Ihren Metaphern-Wortschatz: Die besten Tipps

  1. Begin looking for metaphors in your English conversations. Jot down every metaphor you spot and use it yourself as soon as possible.
  2. Ask for the meaning of metaphorical expressions you don’t understand and note these as well. 
  3. Write down impressive metaphors from ads, songs, speeches etc. to add them to your word pool. 
  4. If you see or hear a nice metaphor, take a moment to consider carefully why you like it and what picture it evokes. 
  5. Don’t be shy about using a metaphor when it comes to your mind! It adds colour (BE)/color (AE) and vividness to your speech, making it more memorable and effective.
Vocabulary Box
 be of one mind ein Herz und eine Seele sein  
 be shy to do s.th.  sich scheuen, etwas zu tun
 figurative  bildlich
 figure of speech    Redefigur, rhetorische Figur
 jot down  (schnell) notieren
 no surprise  kein Wunder
 simile  Vergleich (rhetorische Figur)

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