Conceptual Metaphors Examples in Everyday Language

All thought relies on conceptual metaphors, such as “Time is Money,” “Diseases Are Enemies,” and “Life is a Journey.” Our critical thinking, empathy, and quality of life are all enhanced when we are aware of what they are, what they do, and how to apply them.

What are Conceptual Metaphors?

When something abstract (a target domain) is understood in terms of something concrete, this is known as a conceptual metaphor (the source domain).

The idea of a conceptual metaphor came from a book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in 1980: Metaphors we live by.

Consider the following three examples:

#1 Time is Money

Through our direct interactions with “money,” we are able to comprehend the hazy and elusive sensation of “Time.” We can invest, spend, lose, and even acquire time wealth.

#2 Importance is Space

Through our more tangible experiences in space, we are able to comprehend the ethereal concept of “importance” or status. We hear phrases like “she’s a big person in the art world” and “it’s a central notion.”

#3 Argument is War

We comprehend “argument”—a vague, difficult-to-define concept that is somewhat akin to a chat but more intense—through the more tangible experience of war or warfare. We battle, surrender, assault, and defend.

We shall examine a handful of these mental metaphors below. There are hundreds of them, and they give rise to thousands of expressions.

Why Conceptual Metaphors are Important?

This straightforward concept gives everything we learn a new and beneficial perspective.

George Lakoff has developed the idea behind conceptual metaphors and applied it to a wide range of subjects, including poetry (More Than Cool Reason), mathematics (Where Mathematics Comes From), politics (Don’t Think of an Elephant), and philosophy (Don’t Think of an Elephant) (Philosophy in the Flesh). Each field is composed of countless mental metaphors that are combined, matched, split, and linked in unexpected ways.

There are (at least) three advantages to understanding how conceptual metaphors affect our thinking and applying them more deliberately:

  • Disagreements are preferable: Since you can address them by using the conceptual metaphors that frame the “bad” thought or phrase rather than just saying “that’s stupid.”
  • Framing: By switching from one mental metaphor to another, we can better frame our ideas and alter frames.
  • New concepts: Introducing fresh metaphors and tinkering with the structure of more established ones might result in fresh perspectives and new cultures.

Examples of Conceptual Metaphors

Given below are a few basic examples of Conceptual Metaphors used in everyday language:

  • Prices are rising.
  • I attacked every weak point in his argument.
  • Life is a journey.
  • Your claims are indefensible.
  • His criticisms were right on target.
  • I demolished his argument.
  • I’ve never won an argument with him.
  • You disagree? Okay shoot!
  • If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out.
  • He shot down all my arguments.
  • This gadget will save you hours.
  • The flat tire cost me an hour.
  • You’re running out of time.
  • Is that worth your while?
  • You need to budget your time.
  • It’s hard to get that idea across to him.
  • I gave you that idea.
  • Your reasons came through to us.
  • It’s difficult to put my idea into words.
  • When you have a good idea, try to capture it immediately in words.
  • Try to pack more thought into fewer words.
  • You can’t simply stuff ideas into a sentence any old way.
  • The meaning is right there in the words.
  • Don’t force your meanings into the wrong words.
  • His words carry little meaning.
  • Your words seem hollow.
  • The sentence is without meaning.
  • The idea is buried in terribly dense paragraphs.
  • My fear of insects is driving my wife crazy.
  • You’ve got too much hostility in you.
  • The brutality of war dehumanizes us all.
  • The pressures of his responsibilities caused his breakdown.
  • Here’s what to do to ensure fame and fortune.
  • I’m feeling up.
  • That boosted my spirits.
  • Thinking about her always gives me a lift.
  • He’s really low these days.
  • My spirits sank.
  • He rises early in the morning.
  • He fell asleep.
  • He’s under hypnosis.
  • He sank down into a coma.
  • He’s at the peak of health.
  • He’s sinking fast.
  • He came down with the flu.
  • He’s in top shape.
  • I am on top of the situation.


Conceptual metaphors are used frequently, including in science, law, and even cartoons (e.g., “Corporations ARE Persons” and “Anger IS Hot Fluid in a Container”) (The Mind IS a Computer). For one to grow personally, they must learn how to recognize metaphors, what they highlight and hide, and how to switch between them.

Quick Links

  1. Examples of Mixed Metaphors
  2. Analogy vs Metaphor Difference
  3. Metaphor vs Simile