20 Names of Body Parts and Elements and Their Figurative Meanings
In past weeks, I’ve compiled lists of figurative meanings of the names of sense organs, parts of the head, and parts of the hand. Here’s a roster in which I’ve accumulated such references for other parts and elements of the body.
1. Arm: something resembling an arm in form and/or function, a part of a garment covering the arm, might or power or ability, a component or division, or support
2. Blood: refers to kinship or lineage, or to a quality intrinsic to someone because it’s supposedly a hereditary trait, or to bloodshed; as a verb, refers to providing a hound with a scented object to prompt a hunt, or to introducing to bloodshed or killing
3. Bone: the core, essence, or heart of something, or the design or framework of a composition, or a subject (usually in the idiom “bone of contention”) or an inclination or talent or, more often, the lack thereof (“I don’t have an artistic bone in my body”), or something intended to placate (“Throw him a bone”)
4. Breast: the location of emotion, something resembling a breast, or part of a garment that covers the literal breast (the sometimes-synonym chest first referred to a box and then was applied, by association, to the section of the body)
5. Foot: something resembling a foot in form and/or function, a lower or opposite end or edge or the bottom of something, a standard length, a unit of meter in verse, or a step or speed
6. Heart: courage or fortitude or persistence, affection or compassion or feelings, the center or essential or vital part of something, or a stylized representation of the organ, or one or more playing cards featuring such a symbol or a card game focusing on this suit
7. Hip: an angle of an intersection of parts of a roof
8. Intestine: the phrase “intestinal fortitude,” describing courage, derives from the association of the intestines with bravery (compare the informal synonym guts)
9. Leg: a limblike component, the part of an article of clothing or footwear that covers the leg, part of a journey or race, or one competition among several similar events, or long-term appeal or interest
10. Liver: a grayish and reddish brown, and seen in the expression “lily livered,” meaning “cowardly”
11. Lungs: a respiratory aid or device, or a variation of the literal meaning referring to someone’s capacity for producing loud sounds
12. Muscle: physical force, especially for intimidation or persuasion; as a verb, to infiltrate (often in the phrase “muscle in”)
13. Neck: a geographical or structural feature resembling a neck, or a narrow margin (as in the finish of a race), or, informally, a part or region; as a verb, to narrow, or to caress and kiss passionately
14. Shoulder: the side of an artificial or natural structure, as the shoulder of a road or of a mountain; as a verb, to push aside, or to bear, as with responsibility
15. Stomach: courage or fortitude, or desire or inclination, or appetite; in verb form, to put up with or withstand
16. Torso: an artistic representation of the human trunk, or something incomplete or damaged
17. Vein: a channel of water or a bed of mineral in rock or ice, or a quality or style, or an aptitude or mood
18: Viscera: in the adjectival form, visceral, corresponds to the adjective gut (for example, “gut feeling”), meaning “instinctive” (as in “She had a visceral sense that she was in danger”); alternatively, it means “earthy” (“The movie has a visceral tone, with its coarse characters and rough action”)
19. Waist: something resembling a waist in form and/or function (as part of an aircraft or marine vessel), an article (or part of an article) of clothing worn on or around the waist, or a line around the waist or a measurement of the line
20. Womb: a space resembling a womb in form and/or function, or the literal or figurative birthplace of an idea, product, or other physical or intellectual creation
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