Implied Metaphor (Examples in Literature & Sentences)

Definition of Implied Metaphor

An implied metaphor is a type of metaphor that compares two unlike things without explicitly stating the comparison. Unlike a direct metaphor, which clearly states that one thing is another, an implied metaphor subtly suggests the similarity between two entities, leaving the interpretation to the reader or listener. The connection is implied through the context, imagery, or juxtaposition of ideas rather than being explicitly stated.

Common Examples of Implied Metaphor

  1. The sun smiled down on the fields.
  2. The wind whispered secrets through the trees.
  3. The city never sleeps.
  4. Time flew by as we enjoyed the party.
  5. The flowers danced in the gentle breeze.
  6. The stars winked at us from the night sky.
  7. The waves crashed angrily against the shore.
  8. The fire devoured the wooden cabin.
  9. The moon played hide-and-seek behind the clouds.
  10. The river snaked through the valley.
  11. The leaves waltzed their way to the ground.
  12. The thunder grumbled in the distance.
  13. The snow blanketed the countryside.
  14. The lighthouse stood as a sentinel on the cliff.
  15. The desert stretched out like an endless sea of sand.
The lighthouse stood as a sentinel on the cliff.
The lighthouse stood as a sentinel on the cliff.

Examples of Implied Metaphors in Literature


“As You Like It” by William Shakespeare

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”

Here, the character Jaques uses the implied metaphor by comparing the world to a stage and people to actors. The initial line “All the world’s a stage” indicates that the life itself is like a theatrical performance and every person is playing his/her own role.

Further, the writer classified the people as “merely players” who have their “exits and entrances”. It implies that individuals enter and leave the stage of life just as actors do in a play.

The implied metaphor conveys the idea that human life is short and the people have to go through various stages of their lives. It also shows that our actions, relationships and experiences are the part of a grand performance.


“Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson

“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -“

The excerpt indicates the use of implied metaphor by explaining the abstract concept of hope. The initial line refers that hope is like a bird. The writer portrays hope as something that “perches in the soul”.

It clarifies that hope resides within a person just as a bird perches on a branch. The second line i.e. “sings the tune without the words” infers that hope provides comfort and encouragement even in the absence of substantial evidence.

The last line “And never stops – at all -” emphasizes the idea that hope is a continuous feeling. Although, it come across through difficult times, however provides a source of strength.

The writer conveys the abstract nature of hope and its ability. It uplifts the individuals during challenging times. Moreover, the comparison to a bird adds a sense of lightness, freedom and beauty.


“The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”

Here, the writer explains that the hardships and oppression of migrant workers are like a fabric that is knitted together. It is stronger and more resilient because of their struggle.

The use of implied metaphor indicates that adversity ultimately leads to unity and strength among the oppressed people.


“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

The author talks about the moment of decision when the poet is ready to embark on a journey and two routes split in a wood. The poet here is comparing the shape and crossing of roads with choices in life. 

The two words “less traveled by” used in the second line of the stanza give us some hint of a less frequented and well-beaten path. In the context, “this choice” represents the significance of individuality and independence, which suggests the meaning of the larger and latter significant outcomes. 

The employment of the implied metaphor shows that if one has promoted individualism, which is generally off pattern, it creates a long lasting impact upon the life of a person.


“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

Here, the poet applies the implied metaphor to convey the message of standing back, thoughtfully when faced with something challenging. The symbolic language describes the speaker as air.

It vividly brings across the idea that no matter the tough words or cruel looks or even hatred face are, nothing can stop him from emerging and being victorious, just as air defies all obstacles. 

This alliterating device generates the metaphor between the glass and the speaker, thus the speaker is able to pass through hardships and challenges and focuses more on their internal power of endurance and the persistence to win against negativity.

See also: Types of Metaphors

Functions of Implied Metaphor

I- Encouraging Imagination

Implied metaphors offer a chance to involve their imaginations to discover that which is intended. The elliptical way they tell the story does not stop there. The hidden and indirect comparison makes the interpretation process much more interactive. They allow the viewers to think and use their imagination.

II- Creating Vivid Imagery

These metaphors use specific images to generate the thought reflected by the metaphor. They make a mental image which give a better idea and also build up emotional association. These metaphors conjure the emotions of the reader and hypnotize him to visualize the object or an idea the poem is referring to.

III- Evoking Emotions

Implied metaphors evoke strong emotions in the audience. These metaphors make people feel more connected to the message by relating to common experiences and ideas. The implied comparisons can stir up emotions such as joy, sadness, fear or wonder, which makes the message more impactful and memorable.

IV- Enhancing Artistic Expression

Implicit metaphors are the strong tool to express the feeling and thoughts that can be intensely felt from the literature and poetry. 

Through these metaphors, the authors render even the most complicated thoughts and inner feelings short and in a sly way. This could help not only to add an additional level of meaning and beauty, but also to make their work more exalted and passionate. 

Importance of Implied Metaphor

Implied metaphors deal with communication and literature, as well as common words, among other things. They carry the aesthetics of language and make them more exquisite and profound. In other words, speech becomes more emotionally evocative and stimulating through figurative expressions. 

Through the participation of readers or listeners, and acknowledging that they fill in the blanks, implied metaphors stimulate a deeper level of comprehending and feeling.

In literature, implied metaphor becomes a poetic and mystify device for the writers to delve into the deepest level of emotional state, ideas and ideas that are too complex to be presented directly. 

They have multiple meanings and produce an effect on the readers who seem to be on the same line by bringing their own experiences, hence, encouraging personal and meaningful confrontation. 

In addition, implied metaphors not only allow the abstract to appear more familiar and comprehensible by using the same words or images that are known, but also they are able to use the feelings of others to express a thought. 

Further Reading
Extended Metaphor
Visual Metaphor

The implying effect of a poetic metaphor is the invisible power that transmits the intended meaning and produces emotional sentiment. Through implying some ideas without expressing them, they invite imagination, etc in creating vivid imagery that can be expressed more powerfully in artworks. 

The implied metaphors are one of the major components in poetry, literature and non-formal language as they make signs and symbols more natural, strengthening meanings. 

Implied Metaphor Examples in Literature
Implied Metaphor Examples in Literature

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