Common Types of Figurative Language Used in Geography


Figurative language is a powerful tool used by geographers to help paint a vivid picture of the earth and its features. It is a way of using words to create a visual or sensory image, making the subject more relatable and engaging. In geography, figurative language is used to enhance descriptions of natural landscapes, human settlements, and even climate patterns. Here are some of the most common types of figurative language used in geography.

1. Simile
A simile is a comparison between two things using the words “like” or “as”. In geography, similes are often used to describe the shape, size, or features of landforms. For example, “The river snaked through the valley like a ribbon” or “The mountains rose up like giant waves”. Similes make it easier for readers to visualize and understand the characteristics of a particular place.

2. Metaphor
Similar to a simile, a metaphor also compares two things, but without the use of “like” or “as”. Metaphors can add depth and emotion to descriptions of geographic features. For instance, “The city is a melting pot of cultures” or “The ocean is a vast, endless desert”. By using metaphors, geographers can give inanimate objects human attributes, making them more relatable and captivating.

3. Personification
Personification is a literary device that gives human traits to non-human things. In geography, this can be used to describe nature and weather phenomena. For example, “The wind howled in fury” or “The trees danced in the gentle breeze”. Personification adds a touch of imagination and emotion to otherwise factual descriptions, making them more interesting and memorable.

4. Hyperbole
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration for emphasis or effect. In geography, hyperbole is used to emphasize the magnitude or extreme nature of a place. For instance, “The heat was suffocating, as if the sun was trying to melt us” or “The mountains were so high, they reached the very heavens”. Hyperbole can be a powerful tool in describing the overwhelming and grandeur of natural features.

5. Onomatopoeia
Onomatopoeia is the use of words that imitate a sound. In geography, onomatopoeia is often used to describe natural elements such as water, wind, or animals. For example, “The waves crashed against the shore” or “The birds chirped and sang in harmony”. Onomatopoeia adds a sense of liveliness and realism to geographic descriptions, making them more engaging and immersive.

6. Alliteration
Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words in close proximity. In geography, alliteration can be used to highlight certain aspects of a place or create a sense of rhythm and flow in descriptions. For instance, “The shimmering, silvery stream snaked through the meadow” or “The rugged, rocky landscape loomed before us”. Alliteration can add a musical quality to geographic descriptions, making them more enjoyable to read or listen to.

7. Idioms
Idioms are expressions that have a figurative meaning different from their literal interpretation. In geography, idioms can be used to convey a specific message or evoke a certain feeling. For example, “Taking the road less traveled” to describe exploring a place off the beaten path or “Up in the clouds” to describe a place high in the mountains. Idioms can add a touch of creativity and familiarity to geographic descriptions.

In conclusion, figurative language is an essential element of geography that helps to make descriptions more vivid, interesting, and relatable. Similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and idioms are just some of the many techniques used by geographers to add depth and emotion to their writing. By using figurative language, geographers can bring the world to life in a way that facts and figures cannot, making it a powerful tool in their field of study.