Definition of figurative adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈfɪɡərətɪv//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈfɪɡərətɪv//
    , NAmE//ˈfɪɡjərətɪv//
    [usually before noun] Describing art
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  1. 1(of language, words, phrases, etc.) used in a way that is different from the usual meaning, in order to create a particular mental picture. For example, ‘He exploded with rage’ shows a figurative use of the verb ‘explode’. compare literal, metaphorical
  2. 2(of paintings, art, etc.) showing people, animals and objects as they really look a figurative artist compare abstract See related entries: Describing art
  3. Word OriginMiddle English: from late Latin figurativus, from figurare ‘to form or fashion’, from figura ‘shape, figure, form’; related to fingere ‘form, contrive’.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: figurative