Metaphors We Live By
by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
University of Chicago Press, 2003
Cloth: 978-0-226-46800-6 | Paper: 978-0-226-46801-3 | Electronic: 978-0-226-47099-3
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226470993.001.0001


The now-classic Metaphors We Live By changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by"—metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them.

In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.


George Lakoff is a professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of, among other books, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things and Moral Politics, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Mark Johnson is the Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon. He is the author of The Body in the Mind and Moral Imagination, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Johnson and Lakoff have also coauthored Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought.


"This book changed the way I look at metaphors and how language shapes our thoughts and our ability to think."
— Words Without Borders




1. Concepts We Live By

2. The Systematicity of Metaphorical Concepts

3. Metaphorical Systematicity: Highlighting and Hiding

4. Orientational Metaphors

5. Metaphor and Cultural Coherence

6. Ontological Metaphors

7. Personification

8. Metonymy

9. Challenges to Metaphorical Coherence

12. How Is Our Conceptual System Grounded?

13. The Grounding of Structural Metaphors

14. Causation: Partly Emergent and Partly Metaphorical

15. The Coherent Structuring of Experience

16. Metaphorical Coherence

17. Complex Coherences across Metaphors

18. Some Consequences for Theories of Conceptual Structure

19. Definition and Understanding

20. How Metaphor Can Give Meaning for Forms

21. New Meaning

22. The Creation of Similarity

23. Metaphor, Truth, and Action

24. Truth

25. The Myth of Objectivism and Subjectivism

26. The Myth of Objectivism in Western Philosophy and Linguistics

27. How Metaphor Reveals the Limitation of The Myth of Objectivism

29. The Experimentalist Alternative: Giving New Meaning of the Old Myths

30. Understanding



Afterword, 2003