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The Songwriter's Idea Book by Sheila Davis

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STRATEGY TWELVEThe Compound Metaphor as Design Device

Some Background

A common form of metaphor consists of a verbal construction in which the compared realm is expressed as an attributive noun, as in such familiar expressions as ‘snail mail’, ‘eagle-eyed’, and ‘bookworm’. These three metaphoric expressions form what grammarians term a compound word, that is, one which is made up of two or more words. The examples also exemplify the three forms that compound words take: 1) open compound (snail mail); 2) hyphenated compound (eagle-eyed); and 3) solid compound (bookworm). I've termed this form of metaphoric comparison the “compound metaphor.”

Two of society's most recently-coined compound metaphors are ‘glass-ceiling syndrome’ and ‘boomerang kids’. ...

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