Using this lin­gu­i­stic evi­dence, the aut­hors expand on a ran­ge of meta­pho­ri­cal con­cepts. Examp­les include ori­en­ta­tio­nal meta­phors using up and down, e.g. good is up, bad is down (chap­ter 4); onto­lo­gi­cal meta­phors, which refer to events or con­cepts as enti­ties or sub­s­tances, e.g. his mind snap­ped, a beau­tiful catch, foot of the moun­tain (chap­ter 6); per­so­ni­fi­ca­ti­on meta­phors that give non-human enti­ties human cha­rac­te­ristics, e.g. this fact argues against that, life has chea­ted me, infla­ti­on is eating up our pro­fits (chap­ter 7). Fur­ther­mo­re, the con­cept of metonymy—where one enti­ty can stand for another—is exten­ded to include examp­les such as: she’s just ano­ther pret­ty face, he bought a Ford, Bush bom­bed Bag­dad (chap­ter 8). Each of the­se ide­as about meta­phors and meta­pho­ri­cal con­cepts offers an expl­ana­ti­on of how peo­p­le under­stand the world and use this under­stan­ding to shape more abs­tract or unfa­mi­li­ar con­cepts into language.

Lakoff and John­son also look at the gene­ral natu­re of meta­phors and meta­pho­ri­cal con­cepts. One fun­da­men­tal idea is the groun­ding of meta­phors in expe­ri­ence. In the aut­hors words: »… we feel that no meta­phor can ever be com­pre­hen­ded or even ade­qua­te­ly repre­sen­ted inde­pendent­ly of its expe­ri­en­ti­al basis.« (p. 19). This idea is illus­tra­ted by dia­grams (p. 20) show­ing how an expe­ri­en­ti­al basis pro­vi­des the cri­ti­cal link bet­ween the con­cept of up and down and more and less. Lakoff and John­son offer the word »is« as short hand in con­nec­ting meta­pho­ri­cal con­cepts such as »more is up«. To fur­ther explain how meta­phors work, the aut­hors offer a num­ber of cha­rac­te­ristics or fea­tures that meta­phors exhi­bit. For ins­tance, meta­pho­ric con­cepts are sys­te­ma­tic or coher­ent in cha­rac­ter. To illus­tra­te: given that time is money, it fol­lows that time is valuable just as money is valuable, which can be seen in the expres­si­ons: stop was­ting my time, you need to bud­get your time. (chap­ter 2) Meta­phors can also hide and high­light. For exam­p­le, if an argu­ment is view­ed through the meta­phor: argu­ment is war, the vio­lent aspects are high­ligh­ted, as in attack­ing a posi­ti­on, win­ning. On the other hand, the idea that someone is giving you the time and is in search of mutu­al under­stan­ding is hid­den by this meta­phor (p. 18). Meta­phors are embedded in con­text (chap­ter 3). One exam­p­le of this is: »We need new alter­na­ti­ve sources of ener­gy. This means some­thing very dif­fe­rent to the pre­si­dent of Mobil Oil from what it means to the pre­si­dent of Fri­ends of the Earth.« (p. 12). Lakoff and John­son repea­ted­ly unders­core the par­ti­al or incom­ple­te natu­re of meta­phors; becau­se they high­light cer­tain aspects of a con­cept for the sake of com­pa­ri­son, they ine­vi­ta­b­ly lea­ve out other aspects.

Meta­phors are also embedded in the value sys­tem of a cul­tu­re, or as the aut­hors say, are cul­tu­ral­ly coher­ent. An exam­p­le of the reflec­tion of the­se value sys­tems or value prio­ri­ties in meta­phors is: »For ins­tance, more is up seems always to have the hig­hest prio­ri­ty sin­ce it has the clea­rest phy­si­cal basis. The prio­ri­ty of more is up over good is up can be seen in examp­les like ›infla­ti­on is rising‹ and ›the crime rate is going up.‹ Assum­ing that infla­ti­on and the crime rate are bad, the­se sen­ten­ces mean what they do becau­se more is up always has top prio­ri­ty« (p. 23). This cul­tu­ral cohe­rence also means that meta­pho­ri­cal con­cepts are ancho­red in expe­ri­ence and cul­tu­ral pre­fe­ren­ces (an exam­p­le from chap­ter 5: »alt­hough ori­en­ta­tio­nal meta­phors appear to be uni­ver­sal­ly human, the orientation—for exam­p­le acti­ve is up and pas­si­ve is down in wes­tern Euro­pean culture—can vary from cul­tu­re to cul­tu­re depen­ding on which aspect is valued more .…«) This cul­tu­ral influence can be seen in rap-lyrics and street slang (who’s bad?, that’s bad) whe­re bad means good or savvy.