It can be defined as the situation whereby an item is compared with something else. It is mainly used as a comparison method so as to create clarity or emphasis on a point that is made. It can be useful when you want to get a point across as it makes it easier. You can go to http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/glossary/g/figurative.htm for more information.
Figurative means when you use a tool such as a metaphor to describe something. As in "He was scratching like a dog with fleas." You don't really mean that the person had his back leg up scratching at his head with it. It is a tool to help make your point more interesting or pertinent.
Figurative language is a word or phrase that departs from everyday literal language for the sake of comparison, emphasis, clarity, or freshness. Metaphor and simile are the two most commonly used figures of speech, but things like hyperbole, synecdoche, puns, and personification are also figures of speech.
Used well, figurative language enhances your fiction and can be an economical way of getting an image or a point across. However, used incorrectly, figurative language can be confusing or downright silly.
Simile - Likening it to something else using a word like "like" or "as"; Metaphor - Likening it to something else without using a word like "like" or "as"; Personification - Giving a human action to an inanimate object; stuff like that