Can You Find 27 Figure Of Speech Examples In This Puzzle?

Can You Find 27 Figures of Speech

We use many types of figures of speech almost every day

The English language is rich with literal and figurative language. But what is a figure of speech?

It is a rhetorical device, which a writer or speaker deliberately uses to create an implied comparison with a word or phrase.

A common figure of speech often uses an inanimate object. It uses words to convey a figurative instead of a literal meaning.

I am sure you know the expression, all the world’s a stage by William Shakespeare.

The world is not literally a stage where plays are performed by men and women. But Shakespeare uses the word stage to give an abstract meaning to how we all live and behave in our world.

Very also often we use similes and metaphors to express an idea or concept. Idioms are another type of figurative speech.

We use thousands of figurative expressions in our everyday language.


Figures of speech examples

We often use an inanimate object as an implied comparison in a figure of speech. It helps to create emphasis. For example, “It’s raining cats and dogs” and “I’ll give you a hand.”

There are no animals falling from the sky. And you would not chop off your hand with an axe to give it to someone. Both of these expressions are a play on words.

These two figurative language phrases literally mean that it is raining very heavily and I’ll gladly assist you.

If you are a writer or an author, you are using words and expressions both literally and figuratively all the time.

You might be trying to create verbal irony, express human qualities or add colour to your text. The most common literary devices are metaphors and similes. These are both well-known figurative expressions.

Another type of figurative form uses word order repetition or similar successive clauses, such as, “In the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Other rhetorical devices can use a chiasmus, where the second part of the expression is balanced against the first. For example, “you should work to live, not live to work.”

Exaggeration, or hyperbole in literary terms, can quickly turn a word or phrase from literal language into figurative. “I have a million things to do at the office today”, or, “it cost me an arm and a leg.”

The opposite, of course, is an understatement. “It’s only a scratch” when referring to a deep or nasty wound. Or, “It’s a little fresh today” when the temperature is well below zero. Or, “Tiger Woods was a half-decent golf player in his prime.”

Other figures of speech examples include euphemisms.

They are very common forms of saying something in a way that is more polite or not as blunt or direct. He passed away instead of he died. I’m going to let you go to replace you’re fired. Or, it fell off the back of a truck, when in fact, it was stolen.

Some expressions use alliteration. This is where a consonant sound is repeated. Examples include, “I’m as busy as a bee” and “It’s as dead as a doornail or dodo.”

One of my pet sources of idioms and expressions is from my favourite sport – cricket. “To be hit for six”, “to be caught on a sticky wicket”, “to be stumped”, “I did it off my own bat”, “to be caught out” and “to bowl a maiden over.” I love the last one.

I am sure you know all this. I don’t need to remind you about idiomatic speech. It is when we use a phrase with an object to create an implied or abstract meaning.


More reading: What are the 20 most common grammar mistakes?

I know you know, but before you disappear off into the ether …


How good is your knowledge of figures of speech?

Here is a fun challenge for you to test your knowledge of idiomatic and figurative speech.

I stumbled upon this absolutely brilliant cartoon by Ella Baron in the Times Literary Supplement on Twitter.

Ella has illustrated twenty-seven figurative language terms. They are a mixture of metaphors and similes. I wonder if you can identify all of them.

At first glance, it looks like an easy puzzle to solve. But once you get past identifying the first ten to fifteen idioms, it gets a little more difficult. She has been very cunning indeed. Perhaps, as cunning as a fox.


A figure of speech cartoon by Ella Baron

27 Figures of Speech

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an answer list for each of the 27 figures of speech examples represented in the cartoon. Perhaps Ella prefers to play her cards close to her chest, and leave a little mystery by keeping an ace up her sleeve.

I got as far as identifying twenty or so from the picture but then ran into trouble. Maybe you can do better than me and find all twenty-seven of them.

I don’t want to give you a red herring or spill the beans. So I will leave you to it. I’m sure it will be a piece of cake.


More: Do you want the best free writing tools?


Can you solve the puzzle?

If you manage to find the five or so that I have missed, please let me know by adding your comment to put me out of my misery. Don’t get cold feet!

Do it quickly though, before I kick the bucket. You know how quickly time flies.

Yes, I know it is a tough assignment. But well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg, can you?

Anyway, I have given you more than enough clues to get you halfway to solving the puzzle. Now it’s up to you.

Are you up to the challenge of finding all 27 examples in the image?


An update to this article

A big thank you to Kim, who posted a comment on this article. She added this link to Ella Barron’s answer on Twitter. In her post, Ella lists all 27 expressions.

However, Ella adds an interesting aside. There could be up to 49 figure of speech expressions captured within in her cartoon. Now, that really is a tease, isn’t it?


Another word puzzle: Do You Know These 18 Weird Words For Everyday Things?


Getting your figure of speech expressions right

If you are a writer, you are using set expressions all the time.

However, you should be careful that you always check your usage and accuracy. There is nothing worse than getting a fixed expression wrong.

We all use some form of free or paid online grammar and spell checking nowadays. These apps are extremely useful. They really are essential tools for writing accuracy, especially for new writers.

But these tools will rarely find an error in use in set phrases. For example, as hard as a brick, as brave as a tiger and laughs like a monkey.

Only your knowledge can tell you that they should be. The correct expressions are, as hard as a rock, as brave as a lion and laugh like a hyena.

The same applies to acronyms and abbreviations. A grammar checker is unlikely to help you differentiate between am and a.m. or SCABA when you mean SCUBA.

It doesn’t matter if you are writing a blog post or a book. Always pay close attention when you are editing and proofreading your text.

Yes, you must always check your grammar, spelling and correct your typos. But be sure to double-check your fixed figurative expressions as well to make sure they are correct.

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that you absolutely must get 100% right, 100% of the time.


Related reading: Do you know how to polish your writing?


Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

88 thoughts on “Can You Find 27 Figure Of Speech Examples In This Puzzle?

  • March 7, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Bald as a Coot
    The Big Cheese
    To Walk on Eggshells
    The Gloves are off….?
    Ride on Coattails
    On a Silver platter

  • March 7, 2019 at 7:41 am

    I think the cat idiom should be “Not enough room to swing a cat in”

  • March 6, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    From top to bottom and left to right, I think these are the best answers:-

    1. In a nutshell.
    2. How time flies.
    3. Kick the bucket.
    4. Pull up your socks.
    5. Don’t trust your own shadow.
    6. Crowing about nothing.
    7. His head is screwed on tight.
    8. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
    9. Wormed his way out.
    10. From rags ( bottom half of his dress) to riches (top half).
    11. A stitch in time.
    12. Joker in the pack.
    13. Keep your cards close to your chest.
    14. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
    15. Tied up in knots.
    16. More holes than Swiss cheese.
    17. It’s a red herring.
    18. Don’t spill the beans.
    19. Served on a silver platter.
    20. An ace up his sleeve.
    21. He wears his heart on his sleeve.
    22. Got him hanging by the tail.
    23. Cat got your tongue?
    24. Tongue tied.
    25. The shoe is on the other foot!
    26. You got cold feet?
    27. Worn out to his heel.
    28. Can’t make an omelette without cracking an egg.
    29. It’s a piece of cake.
    30. Cherry topping. Or With cherries on top.
    31. Like a cat chasing its own tail.

  • March 6, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Naming from the bottom:

    1. Piece of cake
    2. Cherry on the cake
    3. Best foot forward
    4. Pull up your socks
    5. Kick the bucket
    6. Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs
    7. In tatters
    8. Rags to riches
    9. Have cold feet
    10. Shadow of oneself
    11. Look before you leap
    12. All of your eggs in one basket
    13. Hold a cat by the tail
    14. Cat got your tongue
    15. Tied up in knots
    16. Time flies
    17. Keep your cards close to your chest
    18. Joker in the pack
    19. Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve
    20. An Ace up your sleeve
    21. Spill the beans
    22. Red herring
    23. More holes than Swiss cheese
    24. On a silver platter
    25. born with a silver spoon in mouth
    26. Ear to the ground
    27. Hit the nail on the head
    28. Birdbrain
    29. Cracked walnut

    • March 7, 2019 at 6:53 am

      . “Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” could also be “Hot enough to fry an egg”

    • March 7, 2019 at 3:12 pm

      I think we can say ” in a nutshell” !

  • March 6, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    1. Don’t put all your in one basket
    2. Wear your heart on your sleeve
    3. An ace up my sleeve
    4. Joker in the pack
    5. Don’t trust your own shadow
    6. Growing out of ones ears
    7. Don’t spill the beans
    8. Red herring
    9. Piece of cake
    10. Time flies
    11. All eggs in one basket
    13. Cant make an omelette without breaking an egg
    13. Like a cat chasing its tail
    14. Give a long rope
    15. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth
    16. Cut a big cheese.
    17 Don’t trust your shadow
    18 Bird’s eye view
    19 a stitch in time saves nine
    20 cracked a walnut
    21. Riding on a tailcoat
    22 to get a cold feet
    23 as many holes in Swiss cheese
    24 cherry on the cake
    25 kick the bucket
    26 hit the nail on the head
    27 cat got your tongue

    • March 6, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      Excellent, Arindam! But for your number 5, could it be that he is not a shadow of himself?

    • March 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

      20….Hard nut to crack?

    • March 8, 2019 at 6:46 pm

      But the cat “has it’s tongue tied!”

    • March 9, 2019 at 7:30 pm

      Some of those aren’t english tho’
      The broken egg is more ‘it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement’

  • March 6, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    1. Born with a silver spoon
    2. Ace up my sleeve
    3. All eggs in a basket
    4. Tie in knots
    5. Kicking the bucket
    6. Carrying my heart on my sleeve
    7. Joker in the pack
    8. Make ends meet
    9. Crowing about (something)
    10. End of my tether
    11. Getting Cold feet
    12. Pull up your socks
    13. Be a patch on (something)
    14. Worm out (of a situation)
    15. Cherry topping
    16. In tatters
    17. Red herring
    18. Spill the beans
    19. Bald as a cue ball
    20. Bald as a coot
    21. Holding the cat by the tail
    22. Can make an omelette without ‘breaking an egg’
    23. Keep your cards close to your chest
    24. A piece of cake
    25. Hit the nail on the head
    And of course
    26. Time Flies
    27. Cat Got Your tongue

    • March 6, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      Very good, Sarad! But I’m wondering – does he has a screw loose?

      • March 7, 2019 at 10:06 pm

        In a nutshell is very clear to me. Anyone else see that? It’s not on the list.

        • March 7, 2019 at 10:12 pm

          Also, the cheese. Big cheese? My niece found that but google will give its meaning clearly.

        • March 9, 2019 at 2:11 pm

          Kick the bucket
          Dont put all your eggs in one basket
          Time Flys
          Silver Spoon in your mouth
          Nail on the head
          As the Crow Flys
          Heart on your sleeve
          Ace up your sleeve
          Stomach in knots
          Fish out of water
          Red herring
          Cat by the tail
          Cat got your tongue
          More holes than swiss cheese
          Cut the Cheese
          Playing your cards close to your chest
          Piece of Cake
          In a nut shell
          Getting cold feet
          Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
          Don’t spill the beans
          Worm your way out
          As the worm turns
          Put your best foot forward
          Handed to you on a silver platter
          To throw/cast a shadow.
          Shoes on the other foot
          There is more than one for some such as red herring and fish out of water. The shadow of the woman threw me still not sure its correct. So 27 individual idiom or less but some with more than one meaning. Running out of time just came to me.
          So do we take her literally or figuratively?

          • March 21, 2019 at 10:49 am

            Walking in someone else’s shadow?

      • March 8, 2019 at 6:44 pm

        What about; stepping on one’s toes?

      • March 8, 2019 at 7:56 pm

        Definitely! Lol!

    • March 7, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      An ace up the sleeve
      Born with a silver spoon…
      Kicked the bucket
      Hit the nail on the head
      Spill the beans
      Counting the eggs before they hatch
      Are they correct?

    • March 7, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Can you pls explain
      Bald as a cute ball
      Bald as a coot

    • March 7, 2019 at 10:09 pm

      Number 19 and 20 I am not certain of. In a nutshell is the walnut in its shell.

    • March 9, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Half a brain is more In a Nutshell surely
      and Cast a shadow over isn’t actually in the pic ??

  • March 6, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    It’s a tease, isn’t it, Bharat. But to help you, I used 9 in my text after the image.

    • March 7, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      Thought provoking. Very good.

    • March 7, 2019 at 10:04 pm

      My whole family got in to it and we found 20 and couldn’t find anymore! The answers from various different groups don’t tally up either.

  • March 6, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Hey, can you help me out with the ones you’ve already found? I’m terribly breaking my head about this

    • March 9, 2019 at 11:10 am

      I’m now making things up cold feet, kick the bucket, ear worm, cat got your tongue, piece o’ cake, cherry on top?, bird brain, red herring, spill the beans, kick the bucket, ace up sleeve, heart on sleeve, cards close to chest, the big cheese, cheese fish beans (ha), what is the shadow??, screw loose, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, walking on eggshells

      • March 9, 2019 at 4:19 pm

        Walking in someone else’s shadow

      • March 10, 2019 at 2:09 am

        1.Wearing heart on your sleeve
        2.Ace up your sleeve
        3.Twist around one’s finger/tie oneself in knots/knot in my chest
        4.Putting all your eggs in one basket
        5.Kick the bucket
        6. Cold feet
        7. Time flies
        8. Nail in your head/got screwed/
        9.Bird’s eye view
        10.Hole in your head/ screw loose
        11.Best foot forward
        12.A Patchwork approach
        13.Bug/flea in your ear/earworm
        14. The joker in the pack
        15. Spill the beans
        16. Cat got your tongue
        17. (caught) by the tail/held by an arm’s length
        18 A red herring
        19. Spill the beans
        20. Big cheese
        21. Silver platter
        22. Piece of cake
        23. The cherry on top
        24.Turn over a new leaf
        25. Bad Egg/break an egg (to make omelette)
        26.hard nut/ nut case
        27. (Living) in the shadow/to cast a shadow/Gender-bender

    • March 7, 2019 at 10:40 am

      On a silver platter
      Squak head

      • March 8, 2019 at 7:40 pm

        1) Ace up the sleeve,
        2) How time flies,
        3) Eggs in one basket,
        4) kick the bucket
        5) Cards close to the chest
        6) walking on egg shells
        7) shoe on the other foot
        8) nail on the head
        9) put a bug in the ear
        10) spilling the beans
        11) silver platter
        12) silver spoon in the mouth
        13) wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve
        14) cat got your tongue
        15) piece of cake
        16) red herring
        17) tongue tied
        18) you could swing a cat/hold a cat by the tail
        19) cold feet
        20) pull up your socks
        21) cast a shadow over
        22) cherry on top (of the cake)
        23) rags to riches
        24) half a brain
        25) more holes than a Swiss cheese
        26) put your best foot forward
        27) In a nut shell

        • March 9, 2019 at 9:54 am

          Tie the loose ends?

          • March 10, 2019 at 12:33 pm

            It’s a piece of cake, with a cherry on top! Don’t think it’s a red herring. He hit the nail on the head by spilling the beans. Is that pie in the sky? Time really flies when you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth. That guy wears his cards close to his chest, has an ace up his sleave and wears his heart on his sleave. There is of course a joker in the pack and the story has more holes than Swiss cheese! Hope he doesn’t kick the bucket but the cat has my tongue . Perhaps that bird has a birds eye view?Do you think there is no room to swing a cat or is he just a scaredy cat? Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket, because you have to crack some to make scrambled eggs. This man puts his best foot forward, but clearly the clothes don’t make man! Is this just a shadow of his former self? He obviously gets everything handed on a silver platter, but he is all knotted up and I hope he hasn’t come to the end of his rope!!… He probably still needs to tie the knot, but now he has cold feet!That ear worm is killing me, he will have to pull up his socks, and that’s all from me… a nutshell .

        • March 10, 2019 at 6:43 am

          Thank u soooo much!!!

        • March 11, 2019 at 6:01 pm

          I think it’s not Nail on the head but he’s got a screw loose. If you look at the image closely, it’s not a nail but a screw

          • March 15, 2019 at 3:34 pm

            That could well be! It’s misleading, perhaps, that the screw is on the man’s head (so it makes you think of hitting the nail on the head). One for the pedants, like me! ;-)

      • March 26, 2019 at 6:50 pm

        Okay, not sure how to start a new comment so I’m going to jump in this way. If you take the 49 that the one person found that Ella said were all viable (although a few I think were really stretching it) plus the 6 that the person missed that Ella had in her original post that’s 55 possible solutions.

        Ella posted a screen cap of the 49 solutions the other woman sent her. Just scroll down a tiny bit on the twitter thread linked above in the article for the complete list.

    • March 8, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Looks like a hard nut to crack.. but we can try to put our best foot forward and then maybe the shoe will be on the other foot…

      • March 11, 2019 at 10:26 pm

        A stitch in time saves nine

      • March 17, 2019 at 3:32 am

        Think it’s on a nutshell?

    • March 8, 2019 at 10:47 am

      what about haste is waste (broken egg, spilled beans)


Leave a Reply to Shankar Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.