Metaphors We Live By

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Metaphors We Live By
Metaphors We Live By book cover.jpg
AuthorGeorge Lakoff and Mark Johnson
SubjectConceptual metaphor
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press

Metaphors We Live By is a book by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson published in 1980.[1][2] The book suggests metaphor is a tool that enables people to use what they know about their direct physical and social experiences to understand more abstract things like work, time, mental activity and feelings.


Conceptual metaphor, and a detailed examination of the underlying processes, was first extensively explored in this book. Since then, the field of metaphor studies within the larger discipline of cognitive linguistics has increasingly developed, with several annual academic conferences, scholarly societies, and research labs contributing to the subject area. Some researchers, such as Gerard Steen, have worked to develop empirical investigative tools for metaphor research, including the metaphor identification procedure, or MIP.[3] In Psychology, Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr., has investigated conceptual metaphor and embodiment through a number of psychological experiments. Other cognitive scientists, for example Gilles Fauconnier, study subjects similar to conceptual metaphor under the labels "analogy", "conceptual blending" and "ideasthesia".

Conceptual metaphors are seen in language in our everyday lives. Conceptual metaphors shape not just our communication, but also shape the way we think and act. In George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's work, Metaphors We Live By (1980), we see how everyday language is filled with metaphors we may not always notice. An example of one of the commonly used conceptual metaphors is "argument is war".[4]


Since its publication, people have used the ideas Lakoff and Johnson proposed to comment on a wide range of topics, from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States[5] to conspiracy theories.[6]


  • Experientialism
  • Metonymy – Figure of speech in which something is referred to by the name of an associated thing
  • Linguistic relativity – Hypothesis of language influencing thought
  • Synecdoche – Use of a term for a part of something to refer to the whole or vice versa
  • Subjectivism – Philosophy that accords primacy only to human thought


  1. ^ "Review of "Metaphors We Live By". Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  2. ^ Arleo, Andy (1993). "George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors we live by". Cahiers de l'APLIUT. 12 (3): 106–108. doi:10.3406/apliu.1993.2856. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  3. ^ A method for linguistic metaphor identification : from MIP to MIPVU. Steen, Gerard. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 2010. ISBN 9789027288158. OCLC 650090590.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Lakoff and Johnson, Ch.1-3
  5. ^ Wise, Adina. "Military Metaphors Distort the Reality of COVID-19". Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  6. ^ "Please, Please, Please Don't Mock Conspiracy Theories". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2020-07-12.