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This paper proposes a dimension of iconicity in metaphor variation at the level of linguistic instantiation, which would be novel in respect of Kövecses’s (2005) “kinds of variation in the linguistic expression of the same conceptual metaphor”. Such a criterion of <i>iconicity</i> is taken from Hiraga’s (2005) understanding of the mappings of the motor-sensory images evoked by linguistic expressions as “iconic moments in metaphor”. A review of cases of metaphor variation between English and Chinese studied by Ning Yu (1995; 2001; 2003) enlightens us about the interest of looking at this dimension. I discuss the pertinence of my proposal within Grady’s (1997) theoretical framework. Some cases of metaphor variation between Spanish and Chinese are briefly analysed, according to the prominence of the ‘imagic mapping’ (cf. Hiraga 2005).