Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In a figurative manner; by means of a figure or resemblance; metaphorically or tropically.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb manner In a figurative manner.
  • adverb speech act Used to indicate that what follows is to be taken as a figure of speech, not literally.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb in a figurative sense

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

figurative +‎ -ly

Examples

  • Defeat at the hands I use the term figuratively of a box full of silicon and wires wastoo humiliating for Kasparov, a man who had never lost a multigame match against an individual opponent in his life!

    I’m Working on That

  • Defeat at the hands I use the term figuratively of a box full of silicon and wires wastoo humiliating for Kasparov, a man who had never lost a multigame match against an individual opponent in his life!

    I’m Working on That

  • Defeat at the hands I use the term figuratively of a box full of silicon and wires wastoo humiliating for Kasparov, a man who had never lost a multigame match against an individual opponent in his life!

    I’m Working on That

  • Defeat at the hands I use the term figuratively of a box full of silicon and wires wastoo humiliating for Kasparov, a man who had never lost a multigame match against an individual opponent in his life!

    I’m Working on That

  • The term figuratively has reference to the Spanish conquest of the indigenous Indians of Mexico and the resulting mestizaje or the mixed racial and ethnic identity of indigenous, European and African heritage unique to the Americas.

    Randall Amster: Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies and, Along With it, Reason and Justice

  • Some have suggested that Salem here is the Salim of John 3: 23; a few take the term figuratively as a title (see verse two) devoid of any geographical intent.

    Our Man In Heaven: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews

  • To apply the term figuratively to the forces inherent in national character savoured of a literary indecorum.

    The Works of Lord Byron. Vol. 2

  • Or did the columnist mean to use the term figuratively as when individuals were "beaten up" by government hiring personnel who rejected their otherwise acceptable applications for employment because the resumes weren't ideologically pure enough?

    LJWorld.com stories: News

  • Or did the columnist mean to use the term figuratively as when individuals were "beaten up" by government hiring personnel who rejected their otherwise acceptable applications for employment because the resumes weren't ideologically pure enough?

    LJWorld.com stories: News

  • Or did the columnist mean to use the term figuratively as when individuals were "beaten up" by government hiring personnel who rejected their otherwise acceptable applications for employment because the resumes weren't ideologically pure enough?

    LJWorld.com stories: News

Comments

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  • A word that is shunned with ever-increasing frequency as people insist on using its antonym "literally" as a synonym for it. Let's bring figuratively back, people.

    May 23, 2007

  • The problem with this word is its connotation of not being serious. When somebody looks you in the eye and says "my jaw literally hit the floor," he wants you to realize the gravity of the situation, the degree to which he was surprised. "My jaw figuratively hit the floor" may be true but sounds much lighter, like you're afraid of hyperbole or something.

    I prefer no adverb at all in this case: "my jaw hit the floor." If you're exaggerating, that much will be clear on its own merits.

    May 23, 2007

  • A fair point! Being used to mean the opposite of what it actually means is just half of the issue with literally. The other half being that it is being used for emphasis. So, yeah, I could support the eschewing of adverbs altogether in many instances of hyperbole.

    May 23, 2007