Definition of figurative in English:

figurative

adjective

  • 1Departing from a literal use of words; metaphorical.

    ‘a figurative expression’
    • ‘For example, is the term metaphor itself literal or figurative?’
    • ‘Teens comprehend abstract language, such as idioms, figurative language, and metaphors.’
    • ‘A figurative remark takes on literal construction, a metaphor is concretized in fact.’
    • ‘Using it is too much of a literal and figurative headache, and if you get sloppy there's always the danger of nasty results.’
    • ‘The art of urban wall painting is a way of reclaiming lost territory - in both a literal and a figurative sense.’
    • ‘The irony is that in the subsequent stories, so many are living in darkness, both figurative and literal.’
    • ‘It would make his move towards a criticism of absolute time both figurative and literal.’
    • ‘They go there in search of excitement and electricity - in both a figurative and a literal sense.’
    • ‘The downstream effect in this case is both literal and figurative.’
    • ‘Although told that such usage might be metaphorical or figurative, Tess is undeterred.’
    • ‘This second edition is not light reading, neither in the figurative or literal sense.’
    • ‘He was a figure who, in a sense both literal and figurative, dwelt on the fringes.’
    • ‘He loves figurative language, and uses it when describing these relationships, perhaps as a sort of avoidance.’
    • ‘In consequence he thinks that excessive caution has characterized instruction in figurative language.’
    • ‘Plenty of people are "married to their jobs" in a figurative sense.’
    • ‘Particularly when used in a figurative sense to refer to having heard something unpleasant.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, I think that even Philippe's examples expose some risks of figurative usage.’
    • ‘But I just think that figurative usages don't in fact help richness and vibrancy much.’
    • ‘There is no irreducible core of 'literal' language from which 'figurative usage' diverges.’
    • ‘All these restrictions suggest that the country's newfound "sovereign "status is more figurative than literal.’
    metaphorical, non-literal, symbolic, allegorical, representative, emblematic
    View synonyms
  • 2(of an artist or work of art) representing forms that are recognizably derived from life.

    • ‘The standard was derived from the smaller figurative works on some of the larger paintings and then we kept to that.’
    • ‘On the contrary at any given point of time an abstract artist could do figurative work.’
    • ‘Duncan creates elegant female forms and her work is figurative, though not representational.’
    • ‘When I was there they were very much into minimalism, and they felt that figurative work was illustration, not art.’
    • ‘His powerful figurative work has made him one of the foremost British artists of his generation.’
    • ‘The bust was sculpted by internationally-renowned figurative artist Ian Walters.’
    • ‘Currently, she lives in Seattle, Washington where she works as a figurative artist and writer.’
    • ‘As well as figurative work, Mary works on the landscape.’
    • ‘The subject of her work is mostly figurative in nature and is often that of people, especially children, she has encountered in her travels.’
    • ‘In his figurative works he let the figure bulge out of anatomical specifications and proportions.’
    • ‘This balance results in figurative works that communicate in a surprisingly forthright yet nuanced manner.’
    • ‘Born in Spain, she has become a top figurative artist who interprets the everyday world of Spanish women.’
    • ‘Even so, the signature styles of the figurative work are very much in evidence.’
    • ‘Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Mark, is a figurative sculptor working in bronze.’
    • ‘A figurative painter throughout his career, Beckmann depicted the world around him with an unparalleled intensity.’
    • ‘The son of a milkman, his grandmother provided early inspiration, a figurative painter who copied the likes of Turner.’
    • ‘Freud is better known as a figurative painter but his early paintings, often linear in character, owe much to his graphic work.’
    • ‘He was still a figurative painter; he would not make the full leap into abstraction for almost another decade.’
    • ‘But there is a tendency toward abstraction even in figurative painters here.’
    • ‘The city of New York has been an inspiration for figurative painter Hector McDonnell.’

Origin

Middle English from late Latin figurativus, from figurare ‘to form or fashion’, from figura (see figure).

Pronunciation

figurative

/ˈfɪɡ(ə)rətɪv/