When speech or writing is not literal, it is figurative, like when you say you have a ton of homework. You don't really have 2000 pounds of homework, do you? Also, when art depicts a figure from life it is figurative, like a figurative drawing of a dancer.

The adjective figurative comes from the Old French word figuratif, which means “metaphorical.” Any figure of speech — a statement or phrase not intended to be understood literally — is figurative. You say your hands are frozen, or you are so hungry you could eat a horse. That's being figurative. In art, figure means "human or animal form," so a figurative drawing might show horses running across a field.

Definitions of figurative
  1. adjective
    (used of the meanings of words or text) not literal; using figures of speech
    figurative language”
    synonyms: nonliteral
    expressing, composed of, or based on an analogy
    beyond the literal or primary sense
    metaphoric, metaphorical
    expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another
    metonymic, metonymical
    using the name of one thing for that of another with which it is closely associated
    characterized by romantic imagery
    synecdochic, synecdochical
    using the name of a part for that of the whole or the whole for the part; or the special for the general or the general for the special; or the material for the thing made of it
    characterized by or of the nature of a trope or tropes; changed from its literal sense
    given to rhetoric, emphasizing style at the expense of thought
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    limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text
    marked by strict and particular and complete accordance with fact
    denotative, explicit
    in accordance with fact or the primary meaning of a term
    not rhetorical
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  2. adjective
    consisting of or forming human or animal figures
    “"the figurative art of the humanistic tradition"- Herbert Read”
    synonyms: figural
    (used especially of art) depicting objects, figures,or scenes as seen
Word Family

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