Add flavor to your writing with colorful turns of phrase

As writers, we have an arsenal of rhetorical devices and figures of speech at our disposal to enliven our copy. The devices most often used are similes and metaphors.

When used correctly, these phrases help us paint pictures with words, adding depth to our messages. (Under John’s leadership, our workplace had become like “Animal Farm.”)

When used incorrectly, the results can be confusing and silly. (It sticks out like a sore throat.)

It’s also important to avoid clichés—metaphors that are so commonplace that they’ve lost their power completely. (Clichés can make your writing dead in the water.)

I am fortunate to have co-workers who are particularly clever with figures of speech, playfully tweaking metaphors and similes to humorous effect. Here are a few of their best work-related similes, metaphors, and figures of speech.

• This project is like the crazy train hitting a dumpster fire.

• If it doesn’t look good, don’t put it out on the front porch.

• Let’s jump off that bridge when we come to it.

• I felt like a violin in a marching band at that meeting.

• Members of the planning committee have gone down a rabbit hole the size of the Grand Canyon.

• Watch out for William in HR. He’s a wolf in cheap clothing.

• We’re laughing with you and at you.

• Just remember, it all comes out in the wash.

• Getting approval for that article was like trying to put a bear in a barrel.

• Does it ever seem like the clown acts are running the circus?

• He came to the meeting a day late and a dollar short.

• Whatever you do, don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

• She was as useless as a solar-powered flashlight.

• Finding someone to respond to that post was like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

• Keep your friends close and your communication plan closer.

• That meeting was painful, like a long walk in tight shoes.

• Similes are like metaphors.

PR Daily readers, care to share any examples of great figures of speech?

This article was first published on Ragan Communication’s PR Daily.


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