Nadežda R. Silaški *
University of Belgrade
Faculty of Economics


Here are some examples of metaphorical terms for different kinds of investors, together with the conceptual mappings on which they are based:

lemming – lemmings are known for periodic mass migrations that occasionally end in drowning → an investor that follows the crowd into an investment that will inevitably end unsuccessfully.

ostrich – ostriches are known to stick their head in the ground in response to a dangerous situation → an investor who ignores important pieces of information, which have the ability to impact them or the market in which they operate.

pig – pigs in the farmyard are said to overindulge in feed → an investor who is often seen as greedy, having forgotten their original investment strategy to focus on securing unrealistic future gains.

sheep – sheep are followers and are known for their relying on a shepherd for guidance → an investor who lacks a focused trading strategy and trades on the suggestions of others, including friends, family and financial advisers.

shark – sharks are known for their greed and hunting instinct → an investor that is hostile to the target firm’s management and that is interested in taking over the firm.

turkey – a turkey is considered inept or stupid person → a start-up company that may subsequently go bankrupt.

elephants – elephants are the second largest mammals in the world → an elephant is a large institution that has the funds to make high volume trades, thus having decisive influence on the price of the underlying financial asset.

cash cow – a cow connotes nourishment, plenty, nurturing, while a dairy cow produces milk over the course of its life and requires little maintenance → a cash cow is a product that requires minimal advertising and promotional expenditures but continues to generate revenues year after year.

golden goose – a goose produces a lot of meat and, if properly fattened, a lot of very expensive liver → a golden goose is a profitable product which produces a lot of sales revenue.

turkey – a turkey in English frequently means an inept, undesirable or stupid person. Via metonymic transfer ( THING FOR THE PERSON DOING IT ), a turkey in financial vocabulary has come to mean an investment that has performed poorly, an unwise purchase.

dog – the term dog is used to refer to a dull unattractive unpleasant girl or woman → a dog is a property that, as a result of factors such as poor condition, poor location or poor design, is slow to sell, therefore being perceived as an unattractive and undesirable possession. Strangely enough, we do not come across a conceptual mapping regarding dogs in which loyalty, devotion and guardianship, being the most salient properties of dogs a dog is regarded as “a despised entity”