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Reading: Live, Moribund, and Dead Metaphors


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Live, Moribund, and Dead Metaphors


Christina Alm-Arvius

University of Stockholm, SE
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Prototypical instances of live, moribund and dead metaphors can be distinguished, but the peripheral parts of these categories intersect in an indeterminate way because of contextual modifications or interpretative differences among language users. The basic distinctive criteria are that 1) the target meaning of a live metaphor is transparently connected with the source, while 2) a moribund metaphor is entrenched and lexicalised and need not be understood via its source, although the source and the metaphor are polysemously connected. Finally, 3) a dead metaphor is no longer a metaphor. It has become literalised, since it is not now connected with its historical source content.
Keywords: metaphors
How to Cite: Alm-Arvius, C., 2006. Live, Moribund, and Dead Metaphors. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 5(1), pp.7–14. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 2006.


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