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The purpose of a simile is to illustrate a quality of an object by comparing the object to another object. For example, the suggestion that a given woman is moody as the Moon would be a simile that uses the phases of the Moon to illustrate the nature of the woman's temperament. The simile is characterized by the use of the words "like" or "as" to make the comparison. A metaphor would instead just suggest that the woman was the Moon

Simile - Concept defined

A simile is a commonly used figure of speech which draws a direct comparison between two different things using the word “like” or “as.” Similes are often confused with metaphors, which are also direct comparisons, but do not use “like” or “as.” Similes are used by authors and speakers in many different contexts in order to make descriptions more emphatic or vivid. The word “simile” is derived from the Late Middle English word “simile” and from the Latin neuter of similis, meaning “to like.” Its first known use was in the 14th century.

Using similes and examples

Similes are one of the most used comparisons in literature, and usually reflect simple comparisons between natural or domestic objects and subjects. Following are some examples of similes from literature essays, novels, and other works of writing.

  • “She is smart as a whip.”
  • “That dog is slow as molasses.”
  • “The child eats like a bird.”
  • Buy an essay, so you can have an example as clear as a bell.” -Ultius
  • “The plains were dry as bones, strewn malevolently to the horizon.”
  • Most authors and speakers use similes and metaphors often in their writing; the comparisons help readers or audiences when they come across an unfamiliar or unknown object in a piece of writing. Similes and metaphors help the audience form pictures of what the writer or speaker is attempting to convey.
  • The following are examples of similes from well-known literature.
  • “To follow her thought was like following a voice which speaks too quickly to be taken down by one’s pencil.” – Virginia Woolf, from To the Lighthouse
  • “Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté.” – Unknown
  • “Old Marley was a dead as a doornail.” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Other examples

Similes have withstood the test of time through centuries of writing, and are still used often today by modern writers. With simile, we are more able to perfectly describe thoughts that appear in our heads about the world at large. More illustrious examples of more recent similes in writing are listed below.

  • “The sun rose like a stripper, keeping its glory well covered by cloud till it seemed there’d be no show at all.” – Clive Barker, Cabal
  • “She wore her sexuality with an older woman’s ease, and not like an awkward purse, ever knowing how to hold it, where to hang it, or when to just put it down.” – Zadie Smith
  • “ ‘Nice’ in a bodyguard is about as useful as the ability to regurgitate whole lobsters.” – Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere.
  • “Welshman like Mr. Davis put great stock in Welsh singing, but to my ears it sounds like men jumping off chairs into a bathtub full of frogs.” – P.J. O’Rourke, Age and Guile, Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut.

Simile is also used frequently in song lyrics. Below are some examples.

  • “You stopping us is preposterous/like an androgynous misogynist, you picking the wrong time, stepping to me when I’m in my prime/like Optimus, transforming.” – Talib Kweli from Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Blackstar
  • “Clap along if you like a room without a roof” – Pharrell Williams, “Happy”
  • “And I knew I’d made a terrible call/And now the state line felt like the Berlin Wall/And there was no doubt about which side I was on.” – Deathcab for Cutie, “Crooked Teeth."
  • “How long til we have a friend/Comin’ down, feelin’ like a battery hen/Waves won’t break till the tide comes in/What will I do in the sunrise/What will I do without my dreams” – Major Lazer, “Get Free (What So Not Remix).”

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