In the course of writing my book with Russ Hurlburt, I started to notice what I took to be a pattern in our subject Melanie, and others, to over-literalize their metaphors into phenomenological reports -- that is, to regard themselves as having real conscious experiences that match the explicit or implicit metaphors they use to describe their mental lives, to think of themselves, for example, as literally seeing red when angry, being "blue" when depressed (Hurlburt and Schwitzgebel 2007, p. 72), or as experiencing their thoughts as sometimes literally in the back of their heads or minds (Hurlburt and Schwitzgebel 2007, p. 160). I'm generally suspicious of such claims.
So at the latest meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, when Jonathan Weinberg claimed to have a word on the tip of his tongue, I jumped in with the question of whether he really experienced a feeling like that of having a word near the tip of his tongue. Perhaps wisely, he denied it. Yet for all my skepticism, I feel some pull toward taking the "tip of the tongue" expression literally as an actual description of the phenomenology of having a word or name near to hand but not quite there.
In the case of seeing red when angry, I looked at cross-linguistic data: If people really do sometimes see red when angry, we might expect to see versions of that phrase across languages, or at least a cross-cultural association of red and anger; but we don't. For the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, however, there's much broader cultural agreement about the metaphor. Schwartz 1999 surveyed 51 Indo-European and non-Indo-European languages and found that 45 out of 51 used something like the "tip of the tongue" metaphor. Korean puts it particularly nicely with the phrase "sparkling at the end of the tongue".
So maybe there really is a widespread phenomenology here that this metaphor is latching onto?