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Imagery is visual symbolism, or figurative language that evokes a mental image or other kinds of sense impressions, especially in a literary work, but also in other activities such as psychotherapy. Imagery in literature can also be instrumental in conveying tone. [1]


There are five major types of sensory imagery, each corresponding to a sense, feeling, action, or reaction:

  • Visual imagery pertains to graphics, visual scenes, pictures, or the sense of sight.
  • Auditory imagery pertains to sounds, noises, music, or the sense of hearing. (This kind of imagery may come in the form of onomatopoeia).
  • Olfactory imagery pertains to odors, aromas, scents, or the sense of smell.
  • Gustatory imagery pertains to flavors or the sense of taste.
  • Tactile imagery pertains to physical textures or the sense of touch.

Other types of imagery include:

  • Kinesthetic imagery pertains to movements.
  • Organic imagery / subjective imagery, pertains to personal experiences of a character's body, including emotion and the senses of hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain.[2]
  • Phenomenological, pertains to the mental conception of an item as opposed to the physical version.
  • Color imagery is the ability to visualize a color in its absence.


  1. ^ Malewitz, Raymond (8 November 2019). "What is Imagery?". Definitions and Examples. Oregon State Guide to English Literary Terms. Oregon State School of Writing, Literature and Film. Retrieved 28 April 2023.
  2. ^ "Poetics of Robert Frost: Examples". Friends of Robert Frost. Archived from the original on 2013-05-04. Retrieved 12 March 2013.

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