What Literary Resources Are Used in Sayings? Main Characteristics

The literary resources that are used in sayings are the literary elements of which these popular sayings are used to fulfill their objective: to transmit a council, a reflection, a teaching or a moral about everyday aspects of life.

Sayings have two types of content: the explicit or literal, and the implicit content, which refers to the alternate meaning that constitutes the advice, reflection, teaching or moral that you want to convey.

The implicit meaning of the saying is its most important characteristic. It is given by the literary or rhetorical resources that are used in these and that serve to use the language in an unconventional way.

The 4 Literary Resources Most Used in Sayings

The main literary resources used in sayings are metaphor, analogy, rhyme, and play on words.

1- The metaphor

It consists in giving the qualities of an object or concept to another, making a comparison between these in a figurative sense to make it easier to understand. In the metaphor the comparison is poetic, this differentiates it from the analogy.


- Genius and figure to the grave.

- Candil in the street, darkness in the house.

- A nail pulls out another nail.

- Shrimp that falls asleep, it carries current.

- Last water does not move mills.

2- The analogy

It is the relation of resemblance or resemblance between two different elements according to which one can represent the other.


- More knows the devil for old than for devil.

- He who wolves howls is taught.

- To foolish words, deaf ears.

- Like father Like Son.

- They are wolves from the same hill.

3- The rhyme

It is the repetition of similar sounds at the end of each verse, stylizing the text.


- Each feather flock together.

- To God praying and with the hammer giving.

- Even though the monkey dresses in silk, mona stays.

- The one who went to the villa lost his chair.

- Earlier my teeth than my relatives

4- The play on words

This figure consists of using a word in such a way as to suggest two or more meanings. With the play of words takes advantage of the double meaning that can have a word, its repetition and the words of the same family.


- The one that leaves and gives away is left with the best part.

- Eye by eye, tooth by tooth.

- Shoemaker to your shoes.

- Who speaks, sows; who hears and shuts, collects and sows.

- Bread, bread; and wine, wine.

It is possible that several literary resources are present in the same adage. Such would be the case of the following examples:

Rhyme and analogy

- In need is known friendship.

Metaphor and play on words

- King dead, king put.

Rhyme and metaphor

- Love, fire and cough, they discover their possessor.

Sayings are part of the culture and tradition of the people. Their short sentences enclose the popular wisdom that is part of their customs and which is bequeathed from generation to generation.


  1. García-P., M. (1997). Linguistic properties of the saying (II): the lexicon. In Cvc.cervantes.es
  2. Gómez, G. (2014). Sayings and sayings to give and take. In: Ebrary.com
  3. López, X. (2014). The saying as communicative strategy: (Des) codification of meaning and pragmatic-discursive function. On Ebrary.com
  4. Ramírez, R. (2006). Approach to a pragmatic analysis of the saying: argumentative dimension. In: Ebrary.com
  5. Tuson, V. J. (2003). Introduction to language. In: Ebrary.com

Loading ..

Recent Posts

Loading ..