Simile

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For other uses, see Simile (disambiguation).

A simile (/ˈsɪməli/) is a figure of speech that directly compares two things through the explicit use of connecting words (such as like, as, so, than, or various verbs such as resemble). Although similes and metaphors are sometimes considered as interchangeable, similes acknowledge the imperfections and limitations of the comparative relationship to a greater extent than metaphors. Metaphors are subtler and therefore rhetorically stronger in that metaphors equate two things rather than simply compare them. Similes also hedge/protect the author against outrageous, incomplete, or unfair comparison. Generally, metaphor is the stronger and more encompassing of the two forms of rhetorical analogies.

Uses[edit]

In literature[edit]

  • "Curley was flopping like a fish on a line."[1] Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  • "The very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric."[2]
  • "Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus."[3]
  • "But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile." Charles Dickens, in the opening to A Christmas Carol.

In comedy[edit]

Similes are used extensively in British comedy, notably in the slapstick era of the 1960s and 70s. In comedy, the simile is often used in negative style, e.g. he was as daft as a brush. They are also used in comedic context where a sensitive subject is broached, and the comedian will test the audience with response to a subtle implicit simile before going deeper.[4]

Using "like"[edit]

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.

Using "as"[edit]

The use of "as" makes the simile more explicit

  • He runs as fast as lightning.


The song Everything at Once by Lenka is also notable for the use of 18 similes with "as" in every verse.[6]

Without 'like' or 'as'[edit]

Sometimes similes do not have any connecting words ('like' or 'as').[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]