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

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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: 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.


Related reading: 40 Free Writing Apps And The Best Free Writing Software


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?


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: Further vs Farther – How Are They Different?


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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 9, 2019 at 7:39 am

    Put all your eggs in one basket

    Have an ace up your sleeve

    Keep your cards close to ur chest

    A Red herring

    Spill the beans

    A Piece of cake

    Having Cold feet

    Kick the bucket

    A stitch in time saves nine

    How time flies

    Tie the knot

    Born with a silver spoon in ur mouth

     You can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg

    Hit the nail on the head

    Wear your heart on your sleeve

    Hold a cat by the tail

    You can’t leave your shadow behind / Lurking in the shadows

    Pull your socks up

    Put a bug in someone’s ears / Worm your way out of

    cheery on the cake

    In a nutshell

    On a silver platter

    Put your best foot forward

    More holes than a Swiss cheese

    Bird brain / Sing like a bird

    The shoe is on the other foot

    Cat’s got your tongue

    Joker in the pack / The joke is on you

  • March 8, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    A hard nut to crack

  • March 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    It’s certainly not (1) a piece of cake, looks like (2) a tough wal-nut to crack. Although I wasn’t (3) born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and there are many who think (4) I’m just a joker in the deck, I will (5) put my best foot forward. I have to be careful of the naysayers though; so, for now (6) I’m going to play my cards close to the chest and not (7) spill the beans. I also have to make sure that (8) I don’t carry my heart on the sleeve and put (9) all my eggs in one basket.

    Ah, (10) How time flies – my hair is gone now & (11) I’m bald as a coot, (12) my clothes are in tatters, and (13) I’m at the end of my tether. I’m getting (14) cold feet & I have half a mind to (15) worm out of this whole thing. In the meantime, looking at me (16) tied up in knots the naysayers are asking me sarcastically, “what’s the matter, (18) cat, got your tongue”.
    I began wondering if they (19) hit the nail on the head. Not one to give up so easily, I told myself, “(20) pull your socks up and think; no one is going to give you the answers (21) on a silver platter.” Perhaps, if I (22) hold the cat by the tail, I’ll spot the missing clues: I have to do this quickly though before (23) I kick the bucket”.
    However, the clues are not easy and there are quite a few (24) red herrings; I’m tired,and my logic seems to to have (25) more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. But, wait a minute, I do have (26) an ace up my sleeve as I near the end. I don’t mean (27) to crow, but, take that you naysayers, “I finished it. Who’s is the (28) Big cheese now? How does it feel to have (29) the shoe on the other foot?”. I did not wait for an answer, the lost look on their faces said it all – it was the delicious (30) cherry on top.

  • March 8, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    I am mentioning here only the ones which are different from other lists. I can’t agree with some of them like ‘ you can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg..’ The cartoon has been drawn up with great precision and the idioms must match each item. No one mentions the shadow either….Here are some interesting ones from me.
    Best foot forward
    More holes than the Swiss cheese
    A shadow of one’s old self
    Walk over egg shells
    Bug in the ear
    Head over heels
    A stuffed shirt
    The joker in the pack
    Tying the Guardian knot
    As black as a raven
    Cherry on the icing

  • March 8, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    1. born with a silver spoon in the mouth
    2. time flies
    3. don’t keep your eggs in 1 basket
    4. kick the bucket
    5. no room to swing a cat
    6. screw loose
    7. keep your cards close to your chest
    8. shadow of my former self
    9. like cracking a walnut
    10. piece of cake
    11. wear your heart on your sleeve
    12. bird brain
    13. ace up your sleeve
    14. tie the knot
    15. wormed his way out
    16. red herring
    17. big cheese
    18. spill the beans
    19. you can’t make an omlette without breaking an egg
    20. cat got your tongue
    21. put your best foot forward
    22. knee jerk reaction
    23. handed to you on a silver plate
    24. rags to riches
    25. don’t get cold feet
    26. shoe on the other foot
    27. joker in the pack

  • March 8, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    We say one is ‘growing horns’ when they are starting to resist authority.
    As in, “…the new employee has started growing horns, he will not be sent to the printer.”

    • March 9, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Looks like there’s more than 27. From the responses here, I can count well over 35. I’ll add the following:

      1. To be long nosed
      2. Take to one’s heels

  • March 8, 2019 at 10:57 am

    1. In a nutshell
    2. Crow about
    3. As bald as a badger
    4. Walter wondered where Winnie was
    5. Ear wormed
    6. The big cheese, More holes than Swiss cheese
    7. The red herring
    8. Spill the beans
    9. On a silver platter
    10. Born with a silver spoon
    11. Foot signature
    12. Itchy feet,
    13. Cold feet
    14. Wearing your heart on your sleeve
    15. Jocker in the pack,
    16. Keep your cards close to your heart
    17. Have a trick up your sleeve
    18. Tied up in knots
    19. Cat by the tail, Cat got your tongue, tongue tied
    20. All the eggs in one basket
    21. Time flies
    22. Kicked the bucket
    23. Best foot forward
    24. Pull up your socks
    25. Piece of cake, A cherry on top
    26. Rags to riches
    27. Can’t make an omlette without breaking an egg

  • March 8, 2019 at 6:39 am

    1. Hard nut to crack.
    2. Bird Brain.
    3. Bug in the ear.

    • March 9, 2019 at 4:05 am

      Nobody mentioned this: Forked tongue

  • March 7, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Time flies
    a screw loose
    kick the bucket
    pull your socks up
    born with a silver spoon in your mouth

    An Ace up your sleeve
    In a nutshell
    Got the cat by the tail
    The cat’s got your tongue

    Spill the beans
    Red herring
    Wearing your heart on your sleeve
    All your eggs in one basket
    The cherry on the cake

    Bird brain?
    Keeping your cards close to your chest
    As many holes as a Swiss cheese
    Best foot forward

    Cold feet
    A piece of cake
    A shadow of my former self
    Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs ?
    On a silver platter


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