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

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Can You Find 27 Figures of Speech

Our 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.


We use many types of figures of speech almost every day

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.

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.


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 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.



Derek Haines

Webmaster and Writer at Just Publishing Advice
A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all its forms.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
Derek Haines

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Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all its forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.

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

  • March 17, 2019 at 10:04 am

    1. Ace up his sleeve
    2. Kick the bucket
    3. Born with a Silver spoon in the mouth
    4. He has a screw in his head
    5. Served on a silver platter
    6. To have something coming out of your ears
    7. To tie a string around your finger
    8. Putting all your eggs in one basket
    9. Time flies
    10. Cherry on the cake
    11. Stepping on people’s toes
    12. It’s a red herring
    13. Spilling the beans
    14. Getting cold feet
    15. You cannot make an omelette without breaking an egg
    16. Bird’s eye view
    17. The cat’s got my tongue
    18. Keep your cards close to your chest
    21. Left in tatters
    22. My best foot forward
    23. Living in his shadow
    24. Wear your heart on your sleeve
    25. Pull up your socks
    26. Piece of cake
    27. Joker in the pack

    I had loads of fun

  • March 12, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Time flies
    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
    Born with a silver spoon in his mouth
    You hit the nail on the head
    Bird brain
    Spill the beans
    He wears his heart on his sleeve
    I’ve got an ace up my sleeve
    He holds his cards close to his chest
    Put a bug in his ear
    It’s a piece of cake
    Pretty please, with cherries on top
    Kick the bucket
    Shoe’s on the other foot
    Cat’s got your tongue
    Tie the knot
    In a nutshell
    He got cold feet
    Served on a silver platter
    Cut the cheese (?)
    You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelette
    Total of 21

  • March 12, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Picture is worth 1000 words…

  • March 12, 2019 at 9:57 am

    When the picture is all put together we can say,, “rollercoaster of emotions”

  • March 12, 2019 at 8:51 am

    As alert as a bird
    The flutter of birds
    As dead as a dodo
    Put a bug in your (someone’s) ear
    You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs
    Beggars can’t be choosers (He does look… halfstarved)
    One foot in the grave
    Barefoot and pregnant
    Bird brain (?)
    Odd bird (?)
    A nutcase (?)
    Crack the nut
    Stomach in knots
    Tie the knot
    A fish out of water
    Hit the nail in the head (okay, it is a screw)
    A screw loose
    A crow’s nest
    Stone the crow
    Eat crow
    Keep your cards close to your chest
    Show your hand
    Lend me your ear

  • March 11, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    In a nut shell
    Time flies
    Kick the bucket
    Well heeled
    Pull up your sock
    All eggs in one basket
    Silver spoon in the mouth
    Nail on the head
    Screw loose
    Cuckoo head
    Ear worm
    Coming out of your ear
    Play your cards close to your chest
    Joker in the pack
    End of your rope
    Tied up in knots
    Red herring
    More holes than Swiss cheese
    Spill the beans
    Served on a platter
    Lot on your plate
    Ace up the sleeve
    Wear your heart on your sleeve
    Hold a cat by the tail
    Cat got your tongue
    Cherry on the cake
    A piece of cake
    Patched up
    Bend the knee
    Knock your socks off
    Best foot forward
    A shadow of your former self
    Rags to riches
    From head to toe

  • March 9, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    I was hoping not to *spill the beans* but I guess the *cat’s got my tongue*. Let me *put my best foot forward* before I grow *cold feet* and I am *left in tatters*
    The *Ace up my sleave* is not a *red herring* nor is *she living in his shadow*. I would rather keep * my cards close to my chest* with the *joker in the pack* rather than *serve it all on a silver platter* as it’s *a piece of cake*
    Oh see how *time flies* some of us have already *tied the knot* and others have unfortunately *kicked the bucket*
    Some may say *i have a loose screw in my head * to which I say *screw you* and don’t *put all your eggs in one bucket*.
    Anyways I wasn’t born with *a silver spoon in my mouth* I just *cracked the egg to make the omelette* It’s really not a *hard nut to crack* but you just need to *pull up your socks*, get the *joker in the pack* not *have your heart up your sleeve* and in no time you will find *the cherry on top* and soon you will find the two figures of speech that *wormed out of my head* because this narrative has *more holes than a Swiss cheese*

    • March 13, 2019 at 2:02 am

      I thoroughly enjoyed your comment/answers!

  • March 9, 2019 at 9:33 am

    1)Play one’s card close to the chest….
    2)A stitch in time saves nine…
    3)Putting all your eggs in a basket…
    4) Kick the bucket
    5) Hit the nail on the head
    6) Walk on egg shells
    7)Shoe on the other foot
    8) Spilling the beans
    9) Ace up the sleeves
    10) How time flies
    11) Silver spoon in the mouth
    12)Piece of cake
    13) Tongue tied
    14) Having a cold feet
    15) More holes than a Swiss cheese
    16)In a nut shell
    17) hold a cat by the tail
    18) Red Herring
    19)Silver platter
    20) Cherry on the top
    21) Cast a shoulder over
    22) Putting your best foot forward
    23)Put a bug in the ear
    24) Cat got your tongue
    25) Rags to riches
    26) Pull up your socks
    27) Half a brain
    28) Wearing one’s heart on a sleeve
    29) Hard nut to crack
    30) Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs


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