Metaphorical extension

Metaphorical Extension

Metaphorical extension

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A metaphorical extension is the "extension of meaning in a new direction" through popular adoption of an original metaphorical comparison.

Metaphorical extension is almost a universal and natural process in any language undergone by every word. In general, it's not even perceived in everyday usage as meaning change. When its least obvious, users don't even see it as extending the meaning of a word. Consider the example of illuminate: it originally meant "to light up" something dim or dark, but has evolved to mean "to clarify", "to edify". After a while these new meanings seem so natural as to be integral parts of the word, where senses such as "to celebrate" and "to adorn a page with designs" seem like more obvious additions.


According to linguist Jeffrey Henning:<blockquote>Radiation is metaphorical extension on a grander scale, with new meanings radiating from a central semantic core to embrace many related ideas. The word head originally referred to that part of the human body above the rest. Since the top of a nail, pin or screw is, like the human head, the top of a slim outline, that sense has become included in the meaning of head. Since the bulb of a cabbage or lettuce is round like the human head, that sense has become included in the meaning of head. Know where I'm headed with this? The meaning of the word head has...
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