Just for Fun—Spot the Metaphors

This is absolutely off-topic for a trombone site, but I’m posting it just for fun. I was recently reading a book on the history of universities, and I came across this paragraph. Set aside the fact that the prose is virtually incomprehensible. Can you spot the metaphors?

During the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, philology—the study of language—sent its generative currents through the intellectual life of Europe and America. It animated forms of knowledge all over the academic countryside. The evolutionary tree, now covered with Darwin’s leaves, grew originally in comparative linguistics. Lewis Henry Morgan forged the anthropological concept of kinship on the anvil of philology. Until the nomothetic natural sciences usurped its throne in the last third of the nineteenth century, philology (broadly defined) possibly provided the dominant model for erudition.

You don’t see that every day. I count a metaphor for every sentence in the paragraph, for a total of five metaphors in a single paragraph. First sentence: current. Second sentence: countryside. Third sentence: tree. Fourth sentence: anvil. Fifth sentence: throne. Now picture them all together: A current (electrical? river?), in a countryside, with a tree (so far, so good), an anvil, and a throne. That’s quite a scene!



  1. The third sentence doubles down as the author includes ‘Darwin’s leaves’. One could argue that the author showed some restraint as he could have created eponymic appellations for every structure of his metaphorical tree.

    • Yes, the leaves on the tree. He also could have included the roots, bark, dead branches, etc., but he had other metaphors to get to!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *