When we use the words battle, fight, defeat, campaign, battle, win or victory in everyday language, for example, “they will have a battle dance with their friends” or “I will fight for our love.” We effortlessly do not notice that actually we are using the military terms of battle and fight to be applied to non-military situations in our daily expression. The first meaning of battle implied metaphorical meaning; it doesn’t literally mean they will have a real “battle” with a big tank and stuff but to have a real dancing competition, while the metaphorical meaning for “fight” is not that he will shed blood to keep the love but to maintain the relationship. As most people unconsciously use the terms of war metaphor in their daily life. Therefore, I will attempt to explain further what are metaphor and war metaphor, the examples in use and the implication made by the war metaphor in our daily life.

Metaphors are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose, but nowadays, people are no longer use it for the sake of literature only but also for their normal speeches.  According to the Merriam-webster online dictionary, metaphor is “a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar or an object, activity, or idea that is used as a symbol of something else.” .In other words, it describes one thing in terms of another, it in line as proposed by Lakoff, that metaphor “contains a cross-domain mapping in the conceptual system to understand or think of one thing in terms of something else” (Lakoff 1993,p.203). Further, Binkley (1974) points out “a metaphor cannot be understood as a metaphor unless one can understand the literal meaning of the words used to make the metaphors” (p. 174). White’s (1996) also adds that “The key to understanding the way metaphor works is to understand the way words have been combined in the metaphorical sentence“ (p. 4).  It is the presupposition or the ‘common knowledge’ that helps people understands what a particular metaphor means. Lakoff and Johnson (1980) argue that “our conceptual system is largely a metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience and what we do everyday is very much of metaphors” (p. 124) Conceptual metaphors shape both our communication and how we think act. Conceptual metaphor is about the systematic mappings between a source and a target as can be seen in the examples from Lakoff and Johnson (1980),He shot down all of my arguments attacked every weak point in my argument. According to Lakoff and Johnson (1980), a mapping of the concept of argument to that of war is employed here. The argument, which is the target concept, is viewed in terms of a battle (or a war), the source concept .A source is a more concrete concept employed and an abstract concept is used as target. Kövecses (2002, p.110) states that each source domain has a particular meaning focus, which can be mapped onto the target. As a matter of fact, most source domains do not just apply to one target concept but several. For example, people will talk about target domains like life, argument, love, ideas, social organization by means of using journey, war, building, food and plants as their source do.

In this essay I would give the examples of war metaphors as love, business and politics in its target domains. Following are three examples I took from a widely-used corpora, COCA. The first example of war metaphor in love domain, I searched in the women/men section of magazine and I found this sentence on Cosmopolitan magazine;

Most young husbands aren’t used to addressing real conflict in marriage, so they react in dramatic ways to small issues because they can’t put it into context.

Love is often conceptualized as war, which is reflected in our expression of everyday life. Without a doubt, conflicts happen in love or marriage. It is the difference principal or thoughts between husband and wife that can be seen as in a war. In this example, marriage is conceptualized as a war, especially for most young husbands that they cannot accept the conflicts happen. Young husbands react too dramatically that may also start a conflict to their wives. This conflict of embracing the situation or accepting ones’ idea or opinion is similar to war as the basic purpose of a war is to let one country obedient to another one. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson point out that arguments and wars are different kinds of things-verbal discourse and armed conflict; however, “a portion of the conceptual network of war partially characterizes the concept of argument” (Lakoff& Johnson 2003,p. 5).

Second is example is in the politic target domains. I searched it on COCA with the section of ACAD : Politics, ABA Journal;

But Total Attorneys has felt the strain of the fight.

The debates among judges or attorneys or politicians can be regarded as a conflict among troops in a war. Thus, attorneys as example above who felt the fight for clients’ position are acted as soldiers.

The third example is in the context of business target domain under the section of News: Finance on COCA is;

Connecticut fiber-optic system of its own, which will enable it and its partners to attack SNET’s business in toll and local calls in-state

Business competition is the fight in war. Company will find everything to defense and keep their customers or clients in line with the profits they will get. They should survive the tight competition, thus they have to attack one another. In this example Connecticut fiber-optic system takes action to attack SNETS’ business to hurt or damage the company. They will take the initiative in competing and trying to invade their competitors just like in a war.

After having each example of war metaphor in love, politics and business, it can be concluded that war terms are widely used in English everyday language. The source domain of war is applied to many aspects of people’s life.



Brinton,L and Brinton,D. (2010). The linguistic structure of modern english. Amsterdam: John Benjamin Publishing Company.

Glanzberg ,M. (2008). Metaphor and lexical semantics. Retrieved from http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/mQ4MDYwZ/metaphorlexsem.pdf (July 15,2013)

Koller,V. (2004). Businesswomen and war metaphors: ‘Possessive, jealous and pugnacious’?.8(1),3-22. Journal of Sociolinguistics.

Ling,S.(2010).A Cognitive study of war metaphors in five main areas of everyday english: Politics, business, sport, disease and love. Retrieved from http://http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:397473/FULLTEXT01.pdf (July 15,2013)

Sera, H. (2010) Is business war in Japan?: War metaphors in Michael Crichton’s Rising  Sun. Retrieved from http:// www. pala.ac.uk/resources/proceedings/2010/ sera2010.

Svobodová,L. (2012). Metaphors of war in business english. Retrieved from http://http://is.muni.cz/th/264059/ff_b/Lucie_Svobodova_-_B.A._Major_Thesis.pdf (July 15,2013)


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