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

Find 27 Figures of Speech

Can you find the 27 figures of speech in this cartoon?

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

It is a rhetorical device that 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 to convey a figurative instead of a literal meaning.

We use many types of figures of speech every day

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

The world is not literally a stage where men and women perform plays.

Shakespeare uses the word stage to give an abstract meaning to how we all live and behave in our world.

Very often, we also 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.


Common 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.

No animals are 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 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 color to your text.


Types of expressions in popular figures of speech

The most common literary devices are metaphors and similes, which 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. It deliberately makes a situation significant.

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 that makes a situation seem less important.

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 forms

Many 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 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 favorite 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.

You know all this, so I don’t need to remind you about idiomatic speech. We use a phrase with an object to create an implied or abstract meaning.

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, and 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.


27 Figures of speech cartoon by Ella Baron

Ella's 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 figures of speech.

But 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.


Did you find all 27 figures of speech?

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 omelet 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.

But 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 figures of speech answers.

However, Ella adds an interesting aside.

There could be up to 49 figures of speech expressions captured within her cartoon. Now, that really is a tease.

But let’s put you out of your misery.


27 Figures of speech answers

Official answers from Ella Barron

1. In a nutshell
2. Piece of cake
3. Cherry on the cake
4. Bald as a coot
5. A screw loose
6. Stiff upper lip
7. Born with a silver spoon in your mouth
8. Earworm
9. Keep your cards close to your chest
10. Joker in the pack
11. An ace up your sleeve
12. Heart on your sleeve
13. On a silver platter
14. Spill the beans
15. Big cheese
16. Red herring
17. Tie the knot
18. Put all your eggs in one basket
19. Walking on eggshells
20. Shadow of your former self
21. No room to swing a cat
22. The cat’s got your tongue
23. Kick the bucket
24. Pull your socks up
25. Cold feet
26. From rags to riches
27. Time flies

Other possible answers

1. Got the cat by the tail
2. Hit the nail on the head
3. A screw loose
4. A fish out of water
5. Tie the knot
6. Bird brain
7. Cherry on top
8. Chalk and cheese
9. Knock your socks off
10. Put your best foot forward
11. A hard nut to crack
12. A fish out of water
13. A can of worms
14. Big cheese
15. Best foot forward
16. Follow your nose
17. Pale as a ghost
18. Stick your neck out
19. Raise an eyebrow
20. More holes than Swiss cheese
21. Bird’s eye view
22. Left in tatters
23. Best foot forward


Here’s another word puzzle for you: 18 Weird Words For Common Objects 


Get 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 online grammar and spell-checking nowadays. These apps are extremely useful and are now 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 what they should be. The correct expressions are as hard as a rock, as brave as a lion, and laughs like a hyena.

The same applies to acronyms and abbreviations. Using 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.

Then you will be as right as rain.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

128 thoughts on “Can You Find All 27 Figure Of Speech Examples In This Picture Puzzle?

  • Avatar for Angie Berg
    May 24, 2020 at 6:46 am

    1) spill the beans,
    2) shadow dancing,
    3) in a nutshell,
    4) hot under the collar,
    5) cat got your tongue,
    6) something smells fishy,
    7) start off on the right foot,
    8) time flies,
    9) kick the bucket,
    10) all your eggs in one basket,
    11) ear worm,
    12) silver spoon in your mouth,
    13) ace up your sleeve,
    14) playing cards close to your vest,
    15) heart on your sleeve,
    16) hit the nail on the head,
    17) bird brain,
    18) rags to riches,
    19) having cold feet,
    20) you cant unbreak an egg,
    21) walking heel to toe,
    22) tie a string around your finger,
    23) tie our fingers in knots,
    24) stinky service,
    25) not enough room to swing a cat,
    26) measuring your words,
    27) pull up your socks

      • Avatar for Garry Cline
        September 12, 2020 at 4:51 am

        I can’t figure out what the object above the letter A in the title “A Figure Of Speech,” is. Does anyone know?

        • Avatar for Deborah Husted
          June 14, 2021 at 12:30 am

          looks like a clamshell to me….so, In a clamshell maybe?

    • Avatar for Trish Lawson
      December 10, 2020 at 1:34 am

      The shoe’s on the other foot!!!

  • Avatar for Suzanne De sousa
    April 23, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Knot in my stomach
    As white as a ghost
    If the shoe fits
    Cut and run

  • Avatar for Amanda LaFleur-Giambrone
    April 14, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    I would say that neither “it’s raining cats and dogs” nor “I’ll give you a hand” is a play on words. They are both idiomatic expressions, popular metaphors, if you will.

    A play on words is a pun, a usage of an expression in which a word can have more than one meaning, or where there is play between the word and another that sounds very much like it.
    A magician is driving down the road. Suddenly he turns into a parking lot.
    Need an ark to save two of every animal? I noah guy. (Thanks, internet.)

  • Avatar for Dr H
    April 9, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Red herring = distraction or false trail – something that is misleading

  • Avatar for EmmaK
    March 31, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Has anyone noticed

    Not everything’s in black and white?

  • Avatar for Sami p
    March 31, 2020 at 7:46 am

    1 Birdbrain 2 that one flew over my head 3 a little thin on top 4 your story has more holes than Swiss cheese 5 what’s wrong you look a little blue 6 spill the beans 7 he has high standards 8 revenge is a dish best served cold 9 piece of cake 10 from rags to riches 11 wearing your heart on your sleeve 12 Timeflies 13 shady character 14 nail on the head 15 in one ear and out the other 16 now the shoe is on the other foot 17 You’ve got him wrapped around your finger 18 dead man walking 19 you opened a can of worms 20 thought I had the cat by it’s tail 21 Hanging on by a thread 22 flying by the tail of his seat 23 walking on eggshells 24 he’s got something up his sleeve 25 something’s fishy 26 aces up their sleeve 27 Play your cards close to your chest 28 always guard your heart 29 lead with your best foot forward 30 flying by the seat of his chair 31 that’s the cats meow 32 Not now I’m juggling ten things at once 33 always walk before you run 34 only time will tell 35 I lost track of time 36 born with a silver spoon in their mouth 37 he’s too big for his britches 38 it was handed to him on a silver platter 39 high tail it out of here 40 don’t trip in a nutshell 41 ghosted 42 Runnin on fumes 43 what a nightmare that was 44 now look what you’ve done, you made a mess of everything 45 now I have steam coming out my ears 46 a wise man once said nothing at all 47 deaf in one ear and can’t hear out the other 48 thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow 49 he has peanuts for brains 50 don’t be so thin skinned 51 what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger 52 pain in the ass 53 why your nothing but skin and bones 54 I can see straight through you 55 cats got your tongue

    • Avatar for Liz
      April 9, 2020 at 11:35 pm

      It’s ‘flying by the seat of his pants ‘

      some of those are not idioms but incorrect translations I think.


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