Metaphoric vs. Metaphorical – What’s the Difference?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Many people get confused between metaphoric and metaphorical. But these adjectives have a similar meaning, unlike historic and historical.

What’s the difference between metaphoric vs. metaphorical? I was curious to learn this myself, so I created this nifty guide! Find out the definition of these adjectives and how to use them in a sentence.

Metaphoric vs. Metaphorical: What’s the Difference?

Metaphoric vs Metaphorical Ngram

There is no real difference between metaphoric and metaphorical when it comes to their meaning. Trust me, I checked. Both words mean characteristic of or relating to metaphor.

It’s not like the words historic and historical with different definitions. It’s also not like ironic and ironical.

However, metaphorical is more recognized by dictionaries. Many style guides also prefer metaphorical over metaphoric.

What Does Metaphoric Mean?

Something that is metaphoric means it is figurative or relating to metaphor. In simpler terms, a metaphoric statement uses metaphor. Metaphors are figures of speech but a word or phrase is applied to an action or object to which it is not applicable.

This figurative language highlights the similarities between two different things. It’s not like similes, which use the words like and as to show similarities. For example, “life is a song” is a metaphoric statement, while “life is like a song” is a simile.

What Does Metaphorical Mean?

Metaphorical is also an adjective with the same meaning: figurative, symbolic, or relating to metaphor. “Life is a song” is an example of a metaphorical statement.

Metaphoric and Metaphorical Synonyms

Here are other words you can use aside from metaphoric and metaphorical.

  • Figurative.
  • nonliteral/non-literal.
  • Allegorical.
  • Symbolic.
  • Emblematic,
  • Imaginative,
  • Fanciful,
  • Extended.
  • Tropical.

Examples of Metaphoric

Here are some examples of metaphoric in a sentence.

  • The metaphoric “war on drugs” only promotes violence.
  • The Bible has a pattern of metaphoric use of non-living things for teaching values.
  • “It was sort of metaphoric to not just everything I had done to prepare for this role but everything that I had done as a Black woman to prepare for this moment,” Davis says. “Which is to be a warrior.” [Star Tribune]
  • Their latest release, the metaphoric video ‘Brothers’ is a fine example of the band’s exceptional talent and caliber of giving messages through their artistic expressions. [Daily Music Roll]

Examples of Metaphorical

Take a look at some examples of metaphorical in a sentence. [Storeogum]

  • This author rarely uses metaphorical language.
  • Are you talking in metaphorical terms?
  • Don’t take my speech literally. Think of it as metaphorical of our high school life.
  • The volume of feed is breathtaking (a metaphorical expression, as you have no lungs). You estimate it at more than one zettabyte — a month. Which is a lot. A zettabyte is a million petabytes. A petabyte is 1,024 terabytes. [Nature]

Metaphoric and Metaphorical are the Same

The only difference between metaphoric and metaphorical is their spelling, from what I can tell. But their definitions are the same. These words are adjectives meaning characteristic of or relating to metaphor.

If you’re still not confident on which one to use, you can play it safe by using metaphorical. It’s more recognized by dictionaries and style guides.