Many of the vocabulary items that foreign language learners encounter involve figurative extensions of word meaning. For example, bottleneck, hard-headed, and getting a foot in the door all involve figurative extensions of parts of the body. Although expressions like these are fairly easy for native speakers to understand, they present a particular challenge to foreign language learners. If there is no equivalent in their own language, the understanding and learning of such expressions may involve a degree of figurative thinking. This book examines the nature of figurative thinking, considers its contribution to communicative language ability, and explores the implications for language teaching and learning. In particular, it looks at the contribution that figurative thinking can make to sociolinguistic, illocutionary, textual, grammatical, and strategic competence, as well as vocabulary learning.