What is a Simile?
A simile is a comparison made between two things that are not alike in most ways, but are alike in one important way. In a simile, the words "like" or "as" are used to signal that a comparison is being made between the two things.
Why Use a Simile?
Speakers and writers use similes to emphasize a certain characteristic of a thing. The comparison made in a simile is often unusual. The listener or reader can form a mental image of the comparison. This increases understanding of what the speaker or writer is trying to communicate.
Examples of Similes Using Like and As
- Last night Bob slept like a log.
In this example, slept like a log is the simile, and like is the word used to signal that a comparison is being made. The two things being compared are "slept" and "log." A log just lies in one place and does not move. A mental image of Bob sleeping like a log would show him lying in one place without moving. This would bring out that the speaker or writer is saying that Bob had a long, deep, and undisturbed sleep and not just a nap.
- Working on her project, Mary was as busy as a beaver.
In this example, as busy as a beaver is the simile, and as is the word used to signal that a comparison is being made. The two things being compared are "busy" and "beaver." When building a dam a beaver keeps busily working until the dam is completed. A mental image of Mary being as busy as a beaver while working on her project would show her working very hard. This would bring out that the speaker or writer is saying that Mary was putting a lot of effort into her project and would keep working until it was completed.
Commonly Used Similes
Here are some commonly used similes in which like is used to signal the comparison:
- fits like a glove
- runs like a deer
- chatters like a monkey
- moves like a snail
- sits there like a bump on a log
- eats like a pig
- swims like a fish
- stood out like a sore thumb
- fought like cats and dogs
- eyes like a hawk
- takes it like a man
- sings like a bird
Here are some commonly used similes in which as is used to signal the comparison:
- as clear as mud
- as strong as an ox
- as nutty as a fruitcake
- as pretty as a picture
- as good as gold
- as quiet as a mouse
- as clear as a bell
- as bright as day
- as light as a feather
- as dry as a bone
- as slow as molasses
- as deep as the ocean
A Strategy for Using Similes
You will often encounter similes when listening to a speaker or reading something. Follow the steps listed below to build your understanding of similes.
- Listen or look for the words "like" or "as" as clues to a possible simile.
- Identify the two things being compared.
- Think about the two things being compared.
- Form a mental image of the comparison.
- Identify what the speaker or writer is trying to communicate.
Recognizing similes will help you better understand what you hear or read. Using similes when you speak or write will improve your communication.