Whenever you describe something by comparing it with something else, you are using figurative language. Any language that goes beyond the literal meaning of words in order to furnish new effects or fresh insights into an idea or a subject.
SYMBOLISM is the applied use of symbols (objects, images or other concrete representations of ideas or concepts).
CONNOTATION is the applied meaning to a word that goes beyond the literal dictionary definition.
DENOTATION is the dictionary definition of words
IMAGERY involves using language that appeals to the senses. Descriptions of people or objects stated in terms of our senses.
METAPHOR is a figure of speech which involves an implied comparison between two relatively unlike things
SIMILE is a direct comparison between two unlike things, usually with the words "like" "than" or "as"
PERSONIFICATION is a figure of speech which gives the qualities of a person to an animal, an object, or an idea.
HYPERBOLE is an exaggerated statement used to heighten effect. It is not used to mislead the reader, but to emphasize a point.
METONYMY is a type of metaphor. Metonymy may be instructively contrasted with metaphor. Both figures involve the substitution of one term for another. In metaphor, this substitution is based on two relatively unlike and unrelated things, while in metonymy, the substitution is based on a connection between the two.
SYNECDOCHE is using a part of something to represent the whole.
IDIOM is a term or phrase whose meaning cannot be derived from the literal definitions of the words but instead refers to a figurative meaning that has become known because of common use.
View this clip from Pink Floyd entitled "Goodbye Blue Sky;" Note the director's and artist's use of symbolism, metaphor and imagery to help the reader comprehend theme.