Imagery Definition, Meaning and Examples | Types of Imagery

Imagery is the literary technique of figurative language to create a mental image in the reader’s mind. Through vivid language and symbolic speech, writers engage the reader’s five senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste) and their interior experience (emotions, thoughts, and perceptions). Therefore, imaging encompasses not just mental images but also bodily sensations and inside feelings. Let us have a deeper look into the word Imagery below.

Imagery Definition | What does Imagery Mean?

In literature and other fields such as psychotherapy, the imagery refers to visual symbolism or figurative language to generate a mental image or different types of sensory experiences.

Types of Imagery

There are five main categories of imagery, one for each sensation, emotion, behavior, and response. All of them are explained beneath

  • Visual Imagery: Graphics, visual scenes, photographs, and the visual sense all fall under the umbrella term of “visual imagery.”
  • Auditory Imagery: The term “auditory imagery” refers to mental representations of audible stimuli such as sounds, noises, music, etc. (Onomatopoeia is one possible form of this kind of imagery).
  • Olfactory Imagery: Olfactory imagery refers to mental representations of smells.
  • Gustatory Imagery: The term “gustatory imagery” refers to descriptions of food or other tastes.
  • Tactile Imagery: Tactile imagery focuses on tactile sensations or physical textures.

Furthermore, there are many other kinds of imagery that can be used such as Kinesthetic imagery, Organic imagery, and Colour Imagery.

Imagery Examples in Sentences

Authors that follow the maxim “Show, don’t tell” are more adept at evoking vivid scenes in their Writing. Writers utilize simple, graphic language that appeals to readers’ five senses rather than boring explanations to explain a scene.

Consider the following example sentences:

1. The infant is quite adorable.

The baby’s physical characteristics are described in this statement, but the reader is left wondering what makes this infant so endearing. Readers are asked to put their faith in the author’s moral judgment rather than their ability to visualize the infant. Here is the new version of the sentence. The newborn had large brown eyes and a round, marshmallowy body

The author then employs vivid imagery to paint a vivid picture of the infant for the reader. Whereas the original sentence was very hazy, the revised version is quite precise.

2. The apple is on the table, and no adverbs are necessary to describe it. The apple is on the table, and it’s green and bruised

Definite and vivid descriptions, such as age, texture, color, and scent, might be the writer’s bread and butter, and adjectives can be their best friend. This detail is provided so readers can build their mental images of the author’s intended effect.


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Effects of Imagery

As a form of Writing, imagery engages the five senses and transports the reader to the scene being described. So, the reader can relate to the characters and situations and draw parallels to their own life. In this way, reading takes on a more dynamic and individual quality. Writers who employ vivid imagery keep their readers engaged.

Images frequently convey hidden meanings. When a writer uses a motif throughout an entire piece, they may be trying to draw attention to a specific idea or message. That’s why we’ll use the following as illustrations

  • A candle to remind us that our time here is limited
  • One of the universal symbols of death and closure is a setting sun.
  • Symbolizing the length of one’s life’s journey with a winding path.

Clichés, overused phrases, and worn-out visuals result from overuse. Sayings that are often used include

  • The color of a rose
  • Subtly sweet, like honey
  • Dark as the night
  • Colder than a frozen lake

When something is repeatedly described using clichéd language, readers become disinterested. Competent authors, therefore, avoid clichés. Instead, they make brand-new visual representations.

Literal Imagery vs. Figurative Imagery

Imagery can be divided into two broad categories, the literal and the figurative, and its capacity to evoke the five senses. Literary imagery has no symbolic or hidden meaning; it just states the facts. You can also use the term “descriptive imagery” to describe this. Writers frequently use adjectives to create concrete mental images.

  • A few thin clouds were dispersed throughout the periwinkle sky.
  • Her fragrance was so intense that it gave me a headache.
  • To paraphrase: “The blanket was nice and cozy.”

To convey ideas in a fresh light, figurative language uses striking analogies that go beyond the plain sense of the words used. Poetic imagery is another term for images conveyed through metaphor or simile.

  • The sky was a deep blue, and the clouds moved over it like white ships.
  • Her scent was described as having the aroma of a freshly blooming rose garden.
  • Many have said, “The blanket was as soft as a cat’s fur.”

Why Do Writers Use Visuals?

Authors utilize images to create rich, livable experiences similar to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s in “The Yellow Paper.” Visualization is a gateway into the textual world. The reader can experience the story in their senses, including sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Furthermore, visualization emphasizes the most crucial sensory descriptions. As you read this essay, give some thought to the location you are in right now. Many sensory inputs are clamoring for your attention, but the brain automatically ignores what it deems unimportant. You may be oblivious to your surroundings, such as the noise of your neighbors and the streetcars, the flavor of the food you just ate, or the pressure of your chair against your body.

Literary imagery serves a similar purpose to help the reader immerse themselves in the story. Using vivid descriptions to draw the reader into the story is a critical element of Writing that succeeds.

FAQs on Imagery

1. Could you give an instance of imagery?

Here are a few examples of everyday imageries: Leaves have fallen on the ground and are covering it completely. Sugar could have been licked off her lips. His words pierced my heart like a dagger.

2. What are the types of visuals?

Each of the five senses in the human body corresponds to a distinct category of images.

  • Imagined scenes (sight)
  • The use of one’s ears to create a mental image (hearing)
  • Olfactory metaphors (smell)
  • Visualization of the stomach’s contents (taste)
  • Imaging through touch (touch)

3. Why is imagery used?

Imagery is a technique employed by poets, novelists, and other writers to evoke a concept or image in their readers’ minds by using vivid, sensory descriptions. Visualizing the sensory and emotional experience of reading is what imagery seeks to do with language.

4. Can imagery describe a person?

It’s also possible to have vivid mental pictures of how a person feels, such as when they’re scared or hungry. This type of imagery is called kinesthetic imagery (organic imagery or subjective imagery).


Writers use imagery to help readers visualize a tale’s events, characters, and atmospheres. Images can be best grasped by associating them with the term imagination. Writers create vivid pictures by employing sensory details and exact words. Initially, the word “imagery” meant “figure” in Old French, where the word was derived. Every literary nuance of the word “Imagery” has been discussed at length. We’ll bring you more articles like this in the future, so be sure to bookmark us for more literary devices like this.

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