A simile (//) is a figure of speech that directly compares two things. Similes are a form of metaphor that explicitly use connecting words (such as like, as, so, than, or various verbs such as resemble), though these specific words are not always necessary. While similes are mainly used in forms of poetry that compare the inanimate and the living, there are also terms in which similes and are used for humorous purposes and comparison.
- "O My Luve's like a red, red rose." "A Red, Red Rose," by Robert Burns.
- John Milton, Paradise Lost, a Homeric simile:
As when a prowling Wolf,
Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
Watching where Shepherds pen thir Flocks at eve
In hurdl'd Cotes amid the field secure,
Leaps o'er the fence with ease into the Fold:
. . . . . . .
So clomb this first grand Thief into God's Fold
Similes are used extensively in British comedy, notably in the slapstick era of the 1960s and 1970s. In comedy, the simile is often used in negative style: "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. The sitcom Blackadder featured the use of extended similes, normally said by the title character.
In languages other than English
Given that similes emphasize affinities between different objects, they occur in many cultures and languages.
Thuy Nga Nguyen and Ghil'ad Zuckermann (2012) classify Vietnamese similes into two types: Meaning Similes and Rhyming Similes.
The following is an example:
Nghèo như con mèo
/ŋɛu ɲɯ kɔn mɛu/
"Poor as a cat"
Whereas the above Vietnamese example is of a rhyming simile, the English simile "(as) poor as a church mouse" is only a semantic simile.
|For a list of words relating to similes, see the English similes category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Homeric simile
- Phono-semantic matching
- Murfin, Ross; Ray, Supryia M. (2003). The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms (2nd ed.). Bedford/St. Martins. pp. 447–448. ISBN 978-0312259105.
- "Simile". Literary Terms. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- Harris, Robert A. (5 January 2010). "A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices". Virtual Salt. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
- Burns, Robert. "A Red Red Rose". Glen Collection of Printed Music, Vol. 5. National Library of Scotland. p. 415. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
- Murfin, Ross; Ray, Supryia M. (2003). The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms (2nd ed.). Bedford/St. Martins. p. 135. ISBN 978-0312259105.
- Milton, John (1852). Henry John Todd, ed. The Poetical Works of John Milton: With Notes of Various Authors; and with Some Account of the Life and Writings of Milton, Derived Principally from Original Documents in Her Majesty's State-paper Office. Rivingtons, Longman and Company. p. 62.
- "What Is A Simile?". Funny Similes!. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
- See p. 98 in Thuy Nga Nguyen and Ghil'ad Zuckermann (2012), "Stupid as a Coin: Meaning and Rhyming Similes in Vietnamese", International Journal of Language Studies 6 (4), pp. 97-118.