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A simile is a figure of speech that directly compares two things through some connective, usually "like," "as," "than," or a verb such as "resembles." A simile differs from a metaphor in that the latter compares two unlike things by saying that the one thing is the other thing.
|For a list of words relating to similes, see the English similes category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
In literature 
- "Curley was flopping like a fish on a line."
- "The very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric."
- "Why, man, they both bestride the narrow world like a Colossus."
- "But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile." Charles Dickens, in the opening to A Christmas Carol.
Using 'like' 
A simile can explicitly provide the basis of a comparison or leave this basis implicit. In the implicit case the simile leaves the audience to determine for themselves which features of the target are being predicated. It may be a type of sentence that uses 'as' or 'like' to connect the words being compared.
- She is like a candy so sweet.
- He is like a refiner's fire.
- Her eyes twinkled like stars.
- He fights like a lion.
- He runs like a cheetah.
- She is fragrant like a rose.
- Gareth is like a lion when he gets angry.
- “For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,” (Coleridge - Dejection)
Using 'as' 
The use of 'as' makes the simile more explicit.
- She walks as gracefully as a cat.
- He was as hungry as a lion.
- He was as mean as a bull.
- That spider was as fat as an elephant.
- Cute as a kitten.
- As busy as a bee.
- As snug as a bug in a rug.
Without 'like' or 'as' 
Sometimes similes are submerged, used without using comparative words ('Like' or 'As'). 
- "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
- "How this Herculean Roman does become / The carriage of his chafe." William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra' Act I, sc. 3.
Compared to Metaphor 
Although simile and metaphor are generally seen as interchangeable and a matter of stylistic and creative taste, simile acknowledges the imperfections and limitations of the comparative relationship to a greater extent than metaphor, and it is generally limited to one or two points of comparison. Simile also hedges the author against outrageous, incomplete, or unfair comparison. Generally, metaphor is the stronger and more encompassing of the two forms of rhetorical analogies.
The importance of this distinction may be seen in composer Karlheinz Stockhausen's ill-considered metaphor that the September 11 attacks were "the greatest work of art ever." . The comment widely discredited the composer and tarnished his career and legacy. Stockhausen's point was that art is supposed to move people, often in a spiritual way, and the best works of art make the most impact on people's lives. Had Stockhausen used a simile, "The attacks are like the greatest work of art ever: they changed people's lives in profound ways," he could have escaped widespread criticism while making a credible assertion.
See also 
- Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. An Introduction To Poetry. 13th ed. Longman Pub Group, 2007. Pg 594.
- Merriam Webster
- Steinbeck, John (1937), Of Mice and Men, Sprangler, ISBN 0-14-017739-6.
- Conrad, Joseph (1902), [[Heart of Darkness]], Blackwood's Magazine Wikilink embedded in URL title (help).
- Shakespeare, William (1623), Julius Caesar.
- A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices
- Spinola, Julia (9/25/2001). "Monstrous Art". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
- "On Substantiation Through Transitive Relations" is an Arabic manuscript from 1805 by Sayf al-Din al-Amidi which discusses similes