According to Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language, in figurative language “figures of speech such as metaphors and similes freely occur...they are regarded as embellishments that deviate from the ‘ordinary’ uses of language.” On the other hand, literal language “suggests the influence of the letter as a measure of strictness and rightness... If something is done literally, a person follows instructions ‘to the letter’, without flexibility or imagination.” (1998)
It is common for people to misuse or overly use figurative words in written or spoken language. Consequently, the minds of the readers or listeners start focussing on the language, rather than what it implies. Thus, it hinders the productivity of the thought process by engaging the mind to concentrate on words, or phrases rather than their meanings in a particular context. Following is an attempt to define the meanings and functions of a few words according to Oxford Reference Online that are often used interchangeably in different contexts.
“A phrase or grammatical construction that cannot be translated literally into another language because it’s meaning is not equivalent to that of its component words. ” A simple idiom like ‘bring home the bacon’ means to earn money or success or profit. Consider the confusion it makes in contexts like:
We planned to host a sumptuous dinner on Thanksgiving. I decided to prepare a delicious sweet potato, bacon and pomegranate salad, and bacon-roasted turkey. Everyone was looking forward to Thanksgiving as the year had been really tough and both, John and I had to work really hard to bring home the bacon.