Published In

Metaphor and Symbol

Document Type


Publication Date



Metaphor, Plays on words, Idioms, Figures of speech


In this essay we discuss a class of apparently metaphorical idioms, exemplified by "fine as frog's hair," that do not afford any obvious interpretation, and appear to have originated, at least in part, in language play. We review recent trends in both play theory and metaphor theory, and show that a playful approach to language is often an important element in the use and understanding of metaphors (and idioms generally), even when metaphors can be readily interpreted by means of a vehicle-to-topic mapping. Based on this evidence we call for a more deliberate inclusion of language play in metaphor theory and analysis.


Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Metaphor and Symbol. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Metaphor and Symbol, Vol. 23, Issue 2, 2008.



Persistent Identifier

Included in

Communication Commons