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Metaphor Lab Amsterdam

Metaphor Lab Amsterdam is an interuniversity research group, mainly between UvA and VU University Amsterdam, which aims to describe, explain and apply variation in metaphor use by examining various linguistic and discourse constraints with the help of a variety of methods and techniques.

The lab has five themes, ranging from Deliberate Metaphor Theory and Variation in Metaphor through Metaphor and Multimodality to Figurative Framing and Metaphor and Argumentation. Apart from the projects listed above at UvA, projects outside UvA include an NWO ZonMW program on ‘Dementia in metaphors’ (Gert Olthuis, Anke Oerlemans, RUN), with a metaphor identification project across five languages in NL, a PhD project linked to an NWO Veni program on ‘Figurative framing in political discourse’ (Amber Boeynaems, with Christian Burgers and Gerard Steen), an NWO Vidi program on ‘Contemporary political satire’ (Christian Burgers, VU), with two PhD projects: Ellen Droog, “Humorous metaphors in political satire”, and Britta Brugman, “Contemporary political satire: Medium, language and impact”; and an NWO Promoties in de geesteswetenschappen project ‘Resolving distortions in semantic spaces defined by words by analysing relations between word, sense and reference’ (Pia Sommerauer, with Piek Vossen and Gerard Steen).


Every year, the Metaphor Lab organizes the Metaphor Festival, a conference on the use of figurative language and other modes of figurative expression.
Bi-weekly research meetings are held on Tuesday mornings from 9 – 11 AM (see calendar on the Metaphor Lab website).

Coordinator and group members

Coordinator: Gerard Steen

Group members: Christian Burgers, José Plug, Jean Wagemans

PhDs and postdocs: Andreas Finsen, Giulia Frezza, Romy van den Heerik, Fu Jie, Saskia Leymann, Dunja Wackers

External group members: Tina Krennmayr (VUA); Marianna Bolognesi (Oxford University)


More information about the Metaphor Lab Amsterdam can be found at The center is a joint venture of the Network Institute at VU University Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication at the University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC).