7. Use Lexaphors
I'll have another jewel in my resume. ("Tracking")
In that sentence, jewel is what I call a lexaphor. Roughly, a lexaphor is a metaphor in a single word. The above is about the same as:
I'll have something in my resume as valuable as a jewel.
I have already stressed using different forms; the lexaphor is a very important form to use.
1. He felt empty.
2. He felt like an empty container. (simile)
People aren't actually empty. He is being described as if he was a container in #1, so there's an implied simile to containers (#2). "Empty" has been used so often in this role that it has become part-word and I would not be surprised the find the metaphorical definition in the dictionary.
The default is to understand something as literal, so every figurative expression has to have a cue. The cue for a lexaphor is that the thing cannot literally have the trait. For example, a jewel cannot be in a resume.
If you assign an inanimate object a trait that could belong to a person, that's called personification. That's one kind of lexaphor, but only one kind. The attention to personification unfortunately hides the more general principle.
1. My melancholy was like a ripening fruit. (simile)
2. My melancholy was a ripening fruit. (metaphor)
3. My melancholy ripened. (lexaphor. From The King of Lies)
Fruit ripens; literally, melancholy does not. So #3 creates an implied metaphorical to fruit.
A lexaphor can absorb modifying words, making it a phrase:
1. That left me with the cut of being ignored.
2. The left me with the paper cut of being ignored.
3. That left me with the scabbed-over cut of being ignored.
So now it's a metaphor in a phrase, but the principle is the same. It's easy to use a familiar lexaphor (like cut or jewel); consider if a modifying word can increase descriptive accuracy, because it will surely increase freshness.
I think the following is a very long lexaphor. (Or something too difficult for me to analyze: Brian Frosh, slamming the attorney's on the other side:
I think they may have violated Lewis Carroll's copyright on 'Alice in Wonderland.' (reported by Newsweek)
I could feel the misery coming off of her in waves (Hart, The King of Lies).
in a pilgrimage of fumbled words (page 40)
1. The glare she gave old Bob was a laser that melted him in his seat. (metaphor)
2. She gave old Bob a laser glare that melted him in his seat. (lexaphor, Teen Inc., page 4)
NEXT – Using and Avoiding Cliches