A simile is a figure of speech that compares two different things in an interesting way. The object of a simile is to spark an interesting connection in a reader's or listener's mind. A simile is one of the most common forms of figurative language. Similes can be found just about anywhere from poems to song lyrics and even in everyday conversations.
Similes and metaphors are often confused with one another. The main difference between a simile and metaphor is that a simile uses the words "like" or "as" to draw a comparison and a metaphor simply states the comparison without using "like" or "as". An example of a simile is: She is as innocent as an angel. An example of a metaphor is: She is an angel.
Similes in Everyday Language
Similes are used in literature to make writing more vivid and powerful. In everyday speech they can be used to convey meaning quickly and effectively, as many commonly used expressions are similes. For example, when someone says “He is as busy as a bee,” it means he is working hard, as bees are known to be extremely busy. If someone says "I am as snug as a bug in a rug," they mean that they feel very comfortable and cozy or are tucked up tight in bed.
Some other well-known similes you will often hear are:
- As cute as a kitten
- As happy as a clam
- As light as a feather
- As blind as a bat
- As bold as brass
- As bright as a button
- As shiny as a new pin
- As cold as ice
- As common as dirt
- As cool as a cucumber
- As hard as nails
- As hot as hell
- As innocent as a lamb
- As tall as a giraffe
- As tough as nails
- As white as a ghost
- As sweet as sugar
- As black as coal
As with a lot of figurative language, when talking to someone from another region or who's not speaking in their native language they might not get the meaning of many similes.
Similes Add Depth to Language
Similes can make our language more descriptive and enjoyable. Writers, poets, and songwriters make use of similes often to add depth and emphasize what they are trying to convey to the reader or listener. Similes can be funny, serious, mean, or creative.
Following are some more examples of similes regularly used in writing:
- You were as brave as a lion.
- They fought like cats and dogs.
- He is as funny as a barrel of monkeys.
- This house is as clean as a whistle.
- He is as strong as an ox.
- Your explanation is as clear as mud.
- Watching the show was like watching grass grow.
- That is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
- This contract is as solid as the ground we stand on.
- That guy is as nutty as a fruitcake.
- Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log.
- Well, that went over like a lead balloon.
- They are as different as night and day.
- She is as thin as a rake.
- Last night, I slept like a log.
- This dress is perfect because it fits like a glove.
- They wore jeans, which made me stand out like a sore thumb.
- My love for you is as deep as the ocean.
- I am so thirsty that my throat is as dry as a bone.
Examples of similes can be seen in classic literature, such as in the poem "A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns:
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
Another example of a simile can be found in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. When Romeo talks to Mercutio before the Capulets' party, he makes the following comparison about love:
"Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn."
Similes can often be found in song lyrics, as they let you convey deeper meaning with fewer words. For example:
- "My heart is like an open highway." - "It's My Life," Bon Jovi
- "It’s been a hard days night, and I've been working like a dog." - "A Hard Day's Night," The Beatles
- "And it seems to me you lived your life, Like a candle in the wind." - "Candle in the Wind," Elton John
- "You're as cold as ice." - "Cold As Ice," Foreigner
- "Steady as a preacher, Free as a weed" - "American Honey," Lady Antebellum
You can even find similes in popular ads and company slogans such as:
- Chevrolet: "Built Like A Rock"
- Doritos: "Tastes Like Awesome Feels"
- State Farm: "Like A Good Neighbor"
- Almond Joy / Mounds: "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."
- Honda: "The Honda's ride is as smooth as a gazelle in the Sahara. It's comfort is like a hug from Nana."
Get Creative with Similes
Similes are a great tool to use in creative language and are fun to come up with. They not only make what you are writing or saying more interesting, but they can often intrigue the reader as well. When creating your own similes, watch out for cliches though and try to go beyond the obvious comparisons.
For more examples, check out our Simile Flashcards or fun list of similes at Simile Examples for Kids.
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Examples of Similes
By YourDictionaryA simile is a figure of speech that compares two different things in an interesting way. The object of a simile is to spark an interesting connection in a reader's or listener's mind. A simile is one of the most common forms of figurative language. Similes can be found just about anywhere from poems to song lyrics and even in everyday conversations. Similes and metaphors are often confused with one another. The main difference between a simile and metaphor is that a simile uses the words "like" or "as" to draw a comparison and a metaphor simply states the comparison without using "like" or "as". An example of a simile is: She is as innocent as an angel. An example of a metaphor is: She is an angel.
Let's look in detail at an example of travel writing.
In this extract the writer gives his impressions of an area of Montana called the Badlands.
Mauvaises terres. The first missionary explorers had given this place its name, a translation of the Plains Indian term meaning something like hard-to-travel country, for its daunting walls and pinnacles and buttresses of eroded sandstone and sheer clay. Where I was now, in Fallon County, Montana, close to the North Dakota state line, the Badlands were getting better. A horseback rider wouldn't have too much difficulty getting past the blisters and eruptions that scarred the prairie here. But the land was still bad enough to put one in mind of Neil Armstrong and the rest of the Apollo astronauts: dusty, cratered, its green turning to seer yellow under the June sun.
Breasting the regular swells of land, on a red dirt road as true as a line of longitude, the car was like a boat at sea. The ocean was hardly more solitary than this empty country, where in forty miles or so I hadn't seen another vehicle.
Can you spot any other features of this type of writing which we've not pointed out for you, or some more examples of the ones above?
Now try a Test Bite