Some of my favorite money metaphors are:
- Money is a curse
- Money is the root of all evil
- This money is a nest egg
Below are all 17 metaphors for money that I could think up, along with explanations and examples.
1. Money is a Curse
When some people make a lot of money, a lot of bad things happen, too.
For example, you stop knowing who your true friends are. Some people are going to only try to be your friends because you’re wealthy.
You might also get to retire. Then, you don’t know what to do with your life and end up bored and depressed.
So, to say that money is a curse, you’re not saying it’s literally setting a curse on you. In reality, you’re saying it feels like a curse (in simile form).
Example: “I won the lottery and everyone started begging me for money. It was a curse.”
2. Money Talks
This is a type of metaphor called a personification metaphor. It’s when you give a non-human thing (cash) human traits (talking).
Of course, the only things that can talk are humans.
But the idea here is that if you have money, you can get people to do things for you (like tell you things!)
Example: “In politics, money talks.”
3. Money is the Root of all Evil
This is a proverb that originates from the Bible (Timothy 6:10).
But it’s also a metaphor.
When we think of roots, we think of tree roots – those things that grab into the ground and act as a foundation for trees, keeping them tall and strong.
But the ‘root of evil’ is metaphoric: we’re saying that this is the thing that’s important in helping evil to grow, just like how roots help trees to grow.
So, we’re saying money is the thing that helps evil grow.
Overall, the message here is that the worship of money over all else is an evil thing. You need to care for and respect each other rather than pursuing money (which might hurt people).
Example: “In politics, money is the root of all evil.”
4. This Money is a Lifeline
You would say this if you desperately need money to get food or shelter. When you get it, you’d call it a “lifeline”.
Imagine if you were so desperately poor that you were going around to all your friends and asking for money. It feels a little like when you’re drowning and you need someone to throw you a line of rope to pull you out of the water (literally: a lifeline).
So, the analogy here is that you’re “sinking” because you don’t have money, so you get given money to buy food, which is the “lifeline to prevent you from sinking”.
Example: “Thanks for the cash mom, this is a lifeline!”
5. The Prices in this Restaurant are Daylight Robbery
Daylight robbery is an idiom meaning “unbelievably expensive”. It isn’t a literal robbery, but it’s someone taking too much money from you for a service which makes you feel like you’re being robbed. That’s why we say “daylight”. It means: it’s happening in the light of day and legally!
I’ve made a metaphor out of this term by saying “the prices are … daylight robbery.”
Of course, the prices aren’t robbery. They just feel like it.
6. That Money is my Nest Egg
A literal nest egg is an egg that’s sitting in a nest. One day, it might become a bird and fly away!
A figurative nest egg is a pile of money that is put aside for retirement. It will grow in value over time (it it’s invested wisely) and pay for your retirement in old age.
So, to point to some money and say: “this money is my nest egg”, you’re saying money is an egg. But of course, it isn’t. It’s just like an egg (in simile form) because one day it will grow into something magnificent like a bird.
Example: “I put away 10% of my income as a nest egg for retirement.”
7. Money is Power
This metaphor is saying that money and power are the same thing. But really, the idea here is that money gets you power.
For example, think about what you could do if you had money. You might be able to buy a servant, buy access to an exclusive club, or even bribe people (except … it’s illegal of course).
If you were to say this literally (instead of as a metaphors), you would say “this money has made me more powerful.”
Metaphors where Money is the Analogy
These metaphors aren’t about money. They’re about other things, but we’re using money as the analogy. The thing that’s being compared to in a metaphor is called the metaphor’s ‘vehicle’.
8. My Business is Printing Money
It’s illegal to print money. But imagine if you could do that! You would be able to make as much money as you want. You would print it all day long and not have to worry.
That’s the analogy at work here.
This metaphor says that a business is printing money, when really, what you mean to (literally) say is that your business generates a lot of profits each month.
Example: “Ever since I got an online store to sell my t-shirts, my revenue has increased 250%. My business is printing money now!”
9. That Car is a Pretty Penny
This means that a car is expensive.
It doesn’t mean that a car is literally a penny, or literally made of pennies. The phrase “pretty penny” is idiomatic and means “a large sum of cash”.
10. My Business is a Cash Cow
A cash cow is a cow that continues to produce milk for you to sell. It’s a very profitable cow for a farmer!
But we call lots of other things cash cows that, really, aren’t even cows! Here, we’re using analogy to compare something (say, a business) to a cow the produces regular cash for you.
A business that is a cash cow might be one that makes you money every month without much effort.
Example: “I make a thousand dollars a week and only work on Mondays. This business is a cash cow!”
11. This Shopping Trip is Burning Money
Imagine burning money. You would be so sad to see it disappear in front of your very eyes. It might be even more upsetting because you didn’t get anything of value from the money.
We can relate this to a shopping trip.
If you take your child shopping and say “you can buy whatever you want”, they might spend it on wasteful things like candy and toys you know are going to break in a week.
In this case, you might feel like the shopping trip is burning money. You’re seeing money disappear but not getting anything for it!
12. You are my Lucky Penny
A lucky penny is a coin that you keep in your pocket because you think it brings you luck. It’s something you want to keep by your side at all times. You might have a sense of connection to it. If you lose it, you will be sad.
So, when you call a person a lucky penny, you’re using a metaphor. The analogy is that the person is like a lucky penny. The idea here is that the person is someone who brings you luck, who you want by your side at all times, and who you feel a close connection to.
Example: “I’m going to the Casino tomorrow. Will you come with me? You’re my lucky penny.”
13. Gambling is Pouring Money Down the Drain
If you pour something down the drain, it’s gone forever. So pouring money down the drain means to throw money away. You’ll never see it again.
The metaphors “gambling is pouring money down the drain” means that gambling is just like (in simile form) pouring money down a drain – meaning just throwing it away.
The idea behind this metaphor is that gambling is worthless and you’re never going to win.
14. Time is Money
This very famous metaphor means that your time is a valuable resource, a lot like money.
You might hear your boss using this phrase to tell you that you need to work harder. Don’t waste time. You should spend every minute working efficiently in order to not “waste” your time.
You could also say this on a weekend. You only have two days free, so you want to make the most of it. You might wake up on Saturday morning and go out for a paddleboard, saying “time is money … I can’t waste my weekend!”
Read More: Time Metaphors
15. This Game is a Run for my Money
Imagine racing against someone. You both put $10 in a hat and say: “The winner gets all the money.”
Here, you are going to have a literal “run for your money”. You’re racing each other and betting on it!
But we rarely use this idiom literally. Usually, we use it as an analogy meaning: “this is hard!” (almost as hard as a race where you are betting money). In these cases, we will be turning it into a metaphor.
For example, you could be playing a computer game that you keep losing. You try and try again, but say “this game is giving me a run for my money!”
It’s not literally racing you for money. But it’s like it (in simile form).
16. This Job is a Money Tree
Imagine a tree that didn’t grow fruit, but rather money. Wouldn’t that be magnificent! You could just walk outside and pick money off your tree every day.
If you had a job that seemed to make you endless money, you might use the metaphor: “this job is a money tree”. You’re not saying your job is literally a tree. You’re really saying it’s like a tree that grows money … it seems to just keep making you more and more money!
Read Also: Tree Metaphors
17. My Thoughts are just My Two Cents
We will often call our thoughts “our own two cents”. This means that it’s just your contribution to a discussion.
Imagine if you and your friends all had a hat and each person threw in two cents until you had enough money to buy some candy. You all threw in two cents for the good of the group.
We use this concept for creating a metaphor about contributing ideas.
If you are at work and everyone is trying to brainstorm ideas, you can say: “everyone throw in your own two cents.” This really means: “everyone tell us what you think, and we’ll look at everyone’s ideas.”
Money metaphors are all around us. As we say (this is a pure idiom): “Money makes the world go around.”
So, it’s no wonder that we’ve come up with dozens of ways of talking about money as a metaphor for other things in this world. And similarly, we’ve come up with euphemistic ways of talking about money (and making money) to discuss it without being too explicit about how wealthy or poor we are.
If you don’t like any of these metaphors, come up with your own! What do you think money is like? Come up with an analogy and say money is that thing.
I’m a Scorpio, I love the outdoors, and I’ve written articles in some major online publications like Medium and The Weekly. My favorite metaphor? Anything that’s got to do with baseball. I’m fascinated by the fact our language has baseball weaved all through it. Read more about me here.