A conceptual metaphor is a metaphor with the help of which one
conceptual domain is understood in terms of another.Nordquist (2019); see also Lakoff and Johnson (1980, 5)
for the underlying definition of metaphor.
This transfer of understanding is a key strategy how.
An example of a conceptual metaphor is “argument is war”, in which the concept “argument” is understood in terms of the concept “war”:
Your claims are indefensible. He attacked every weak point in my argument. His criticisms were right on target. I demolished his argument. I’ve never won an argument with him. You disagree? Okay, shoot! If you use that strategy, he’ll wipe you out. He shot down all of my arguments.Lakoff and Johnson (1980), 4
As Lakoff and Johnson point out,
it is important to see that we don’t just talk about arguments in terms of war. … Many of the things we do in arguing are partially structured by the concept of war. … It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor … structures the actions we perform in arguing.ibid.
- Lakoff and Johnson (1980): Metaphors We Live By
- Nordquist (2019): “Understanding Conceptual Metaphors”