The metaphor is: "the shower of arrows was over".

Could "War" the source domain? And the target domain could be "water"? It doesn't make sense to me.

I have read the theory about target and source domains of conceptual metaphors but I cannot figure out the solution in this particular case. Examples like "love is a journey" didn't help me identify the conceptual metaphor in this clause. Could someone help me? Thank you!

  • 2
    "The metaphor is", says who? The metaphor / metonymy distinction isn't ear, but water as the most common source of down pouring is lrobably coincidence and connotation with arrows is lexical for at least 3000 years now (the Anzu Myth, also in Homer), in line with the storm god trope.
    – vectory
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 16:56

3 Answers 3


Wikipedia defines the source and target domains as:

Source domain: the conceptual domain from which we draw metaphorical expressions (e.g., love is a journey).
Target domain: the conceptual domain that we try to understand (e.g., love is a journey).

So in this case it's the other way around than you have described, with 'water / rain' being the source domain, or where the metaphor is drawn from, as 'a shower of arrows' describes the arrows as if they are a rainstorm. Then the target domain could be 'war' but probably more specifically, just 'arrows' or 'a barrage of arrows', as this is what the metaphorical reference is used to describe.

  • Thank you so much CamStew!! I'm very happy because I have been racking my brain trying to figure out the solution. Now things are clear thanks to your explanation.
    – Elena
    Commented Jun 21, 2020 at 19:19

The natural phenomena are the source, and the attack/action is the target, in this case.

There are numerous examples in English of acts of physical aggression being compared to weather phenomena, specifically precipitation, so the conceptual metaphor could be WAR IS WEATHER or more specific, like VIOLENCE IS PRECIPITATION. Here are some other examples from the Corpus Of Contemporary American English.

"drown in a flood of violence"

"he died in a hail of gunfire"

"a devastating flurry of blows"

  • Thank you very much Rurik! I will add your explanations to my analysis.There are several interpretations and all of them are possible/plausible.
    – Elena
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 8:44
  • @Elena You are welcome! Conceptual Metaphor is always an interesting topic, but hard to find objective information about.
    – Rurik
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 19:36
  • @chasly from UK, it was just a verb mistake. No regional variation afaik. Just variation based on attention span... I've updated the answer.
    – Rurik
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 19:39


SOURCE DOMAIN = a (terminating) showering liquid

arrows are a showering liquid:

"the shower of arrows (was over)" - the past participle and termination here are in brackets to represent 'terminating/completing/finishing' operations of the sentence.

Further creative iterations from the semantic root:

"a shower of arrows rained upon us",
"arrows poured from the sky", "arrows dripped across the battlefield", "the passing storm wept its last arrows",

and so on...

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