As the title says: Can someone give me an example of a figure of speech, that the hearer might realistically be confused and think was intended literally? Or someone makes a literal statement that sounds like a figure of speech?
I mean, something like, person A says, "Well, I guess I let the cat out of the bag," and person B says, "Oh, you gave away someone's secret?", and person A says, "No, I mean, I had the cat in a bag but it escaped." But something that wouldn't just be a joke, that might actually come up in a real conversation. It can be funny, but it has to be plausible as a genuine misunderstanding.
I'm working on a book where I'm trying to make the point that we all use both literal and figurative statements all the time and normally have no trouble understanding whether a statement someone else makes is intended literally or figuratively. I thought it would be good to give an example where someone might actually be confused.
I'm sure I've heard such statements, that I've had times where I said, "Oh!! I thought he meant that literally!" but for the life of me I can't think of a realistic example now.