Simile: Wikis


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For a list of similes in the Modern English language, see Wiktionary:Category:English similes

A simile is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things, often introduced with the words "like" or "as".[1] Even though similes and metaphors are both forms of comparison, similes allow the two ideas to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors compare two things without using "like" or "as". For instance, a simile that compares a person with a bullet would go as follows: "Emanuel was a record-setting runner and as fast as a speeding bullet." A metaphor might read something like, "Emanuel was a record-setting runner, a speeding bullet that could zip past you without you even knowing he was there."(Emanuel being the speeding bullet)

A mnemonic for a simile is that "a simile is similar or alike."

Similes have been widely used in literature for their expressiveness as a figure of speech:

  • Curley was flopping like a fish on a line.[2]
  • The very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric.[3]
  • Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus.[4]


Explicit similes

A simile can explicitly provide the basis of a comparison or leave this basis implicit. For instance, the following similes are implicit, leaving an audience to determine for themselves which features are being predicated of a target:

  • "My dad was a mechanic by trade when he was in the Army," Raymond Thompson said. "When he got the tools out, he was like a surgeon."

More detail is present in the following similes, but it is still a matter of inference as to what features are actually predicated of the target:

  • He fights like a lion.
  • He swims like a fish.
  • He slithers like a snake.
  • He runs like a cheetah.
  • She kicks like a mule.

In contrast, the following similes explicitly state the features that are predicated of each target:

  • When he got the tools out, he was as precise and thorough as a surgeon.
  • He drinks copiously like a fish.
  • She walks as gracefully and elegantly as a cat.
  • He was as a lion in the fight.

Unlike a metaphor, a simile can be as precise as the user needs it to be, to explicitly predicate a single feature of a target or to vaguely predicate an under-determined and open-ended body of features. Empirical research supports the observation that similes are more likely to be used with explicit explanations of their intended meaning;[5] this offers some support to the claim that similes are preferred if a user wants to associate an unusual or out-of-the-ordinary property with a target.


  • as precise as a surgeon
  • as regular as a clock
  • as cunning as a fox
  • as quiet as a mouse
  • as slow as a sloth
  • as proud as a peacock
  • as clean as a whistle
  • as wise as an owl


  • as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • as straight as a round-about
  • as pretty as a car crash
  • as smooth as sandpaper
  • as balanced as an upturned pyramid
  • as funny as a funeral
  • as straight as Ruby

Without 'like' or 'as'

Similes are sometimes made without using the words "like" or "as." This often occurs when making comparisons of differing values.[6]

  • "Norman was more anxious to leave the area than Herman Milquetoast after seeing ten abominable snowmen charging his way with hunger in their eyes."
  • "But this truth is more obvious than the sun--here it is; look at it; its brightness blinds you."
  • "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate:" - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18
  • "I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park." - Mater, Cars

See also


Simple English

A simile is a figure of speech which derives from classical rhetoric. It is used to make a direct comparison. Similes may be confused with metaphors, which do the same kind of thing. Similes use comparisons, with the words 'like' or 'as'. Metaphors use indirect comparisons, without the words 'like' or 'as'.

  • Similes:
    • Like a hungry wolf, he ate the food.
    • A dragonfly is like a plane: they both fly and can not close their wings.
  • Metaphors:
    • He wolfed down the food.
    • That girl is a star.

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