The aim of the study was to reveal the perceptions of nurses about lifelong learning nurses via metaphors. Qualitative and quantitative study pattern was used. The cosmos of the research was constituted by all the nurses (N: 325) who worked in an official inpatient care institution affiliated to T.C Ministry of Health in Istanbul. Research was realized with 269 volunteer nurses without any pick of sample. An information form collecting data about age, gender, marital status, graduated programme, department worked, total years worked as a nurse, whether they willingly became a nurse to determine the characteristics of the nurses. Each nurse was asked to complete the blanks in the sentence, 'Lifelong learning is like a/an.....................because..................'to reveal the perceptions of the nurses about the lifelong learning. The metaphors were gathered under 5 conceptual categories in terms of purposes-important-benefit of life long learning on the basis of metaphoric expressions. Nurses produced 139 metaphors for life long learning. More than half of the metaphors (95) were represented by a nurse. The remaining 46 metaphors were expressed by 2-20 nurses. The top four metaphors were baby, water, tree, and children, respectively. Most of the nurses regard lifelong learning as a necessity of constant change and development while thinking that learning realizes at every age and every place either consciously or unconsciously and lastly, they render lifelong learning possible, only by learning to learn. According to these conclusions, metaphors may be utilized as a strong research mean in order to reveal, understand and explain individual perceptions and mental images. There is a need for a wide range of qualitative researches analyzing nurses perceptions of lifelong learning and metaphorical analysis of their thoughts concerning lifelong learning. Examination of these researches' results in education programs would provide a big profit in determining nurses points of view towards lifelong learning. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.