Similes and Metaphors

Similes and metaphors are confused with each other because they are very much similar and readers have trouble differentiating between them. Go through this article to understand the difference between both and how they are used for comparisons in a very interesting way.

Simile refers to a figure of speech used for directly interestingly comparing two things. Similes are used along with connecting words such as so, than, as, like or verbs such as resemble. Similes are usually used in poetry for comparisons between inanimate things and the living, but similes and personifications are also used for comparison in a humorous manner. It is one of the most common forms of figurative language and is found anywhere in poems, songs, lyrics and sometimes in everyday language.

Difference between Simile & Metaphor

A simile is used for comparison between two things. A metaphor is used in the place of something. The major difference between a simile and a metaphor is that in simile connecting words such as like, as, than, so, etc are used whereas in metaphor simply describes the comparison without using any connecting words. Similes are generally easy to understand in comparison to metaphor. Smile originated from the Latin word similis (meaning “similar, like”) whereas Metaphor originated from the Greek word metapherein (“to transfer.” For example

Simile- Ana’s smile is as innocent as an angel.

Metaphor- Ana is an angel.

Simile- My love is like a red, red rose

Metaphor- Love is a rose

Exception- In some cases, speaker or a writer used the words “as or like” in a sentence without intending to make a comparison and just to state their preferences. For example: I like ice-cream.


Similes are used in English Literature for effective, vivid and powerful writing. They are also used to convey various meanings and expressions effective, quickly, and easily to someone. It is used to add depth to the writing. It is known to make a language more enjoyable and descriptive. It can be used to compare funny, creative, serious or mean cases.

For example “the child is as cute as a kitten.” This sentence explains the child is very cute because we generally consider kittens to be very cute. If in a sentence if it is written: “I am as busy as a bee” which means that the person stating this sentence is working very hard as bees are considered as extremely busy and working in nature.

Similes were used in classic literature as well. For example in the famous 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 is Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” When Romeo compares love to a few things while talking to Mercutio before the Capulets’ party.

“Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.”

Commonly used Similes in Everyday Language

One of the very general formats of writing the sentence with simile is by using connecting words in the sentence

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For example: The child is (as) cute as a kitten. Therefore sentence is used along with as/like/than/so+ simile.


Light as a feather, bright as a button, hard as nails, blind as a bat, common as dirt, innocent as a lamb, bold as brass, cool as a cucumber, tough as nails, white as a ghost, sweet as sugar, black as coal, shiny as a new pin, cold as ice, hot as hell, tall as a giraffe, happy as a clam.

Example Sentences with simile:

  • The soldier was as brave as a lion.
  • The girls fought like cats and dogs.
  • Tom is as funny as a barrel of monkeys.
  • She do not take rest until she cleans she is satisfied that her house is as clean as a whistle.
  • The wrestlers are as strong as an ox.
  • Both the sisters are as different as night and day.
  • Watching the play was like watching grass grow.
  • The examination was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
  • The legal agreement is as solid as the ground we stand on.
  • She is behaving as nutty as a fruitcake.
  • I was so tired that I slept like a log yesterday.
  • Her wedding dress is so perfect because it fits her like a glove.
  • Her unusual attire and hairstyle made her stand out like a sore thumb.
  • The girl is as thin as a rake.
  • He asked his mother to give him water as his throat was as dry as a bone.

Similes are also used creatively to make the English Language (writing or saying) very interesting. Similes also intrigue readers and listeners more than usual because of its unique way of comparison.

  • She could not accept the truth. It was like a bad taste on his tongue.
  • The tall man looked like I was speaking in some weird alien tongue.
  • In Christmas time the town square was buzzing with excitement and people like a beehive
  • The man hung his head like a dying flower
  • The children were running around the playground like ripples through water.
  • The baby’s hands were as soft as the nesting dove.
  • My mother’s kitchen was like a holy place where one was not allowed to wear your shoes; one had to be there on certain time, and sometimes one have to pray.
  • The glass bottle rolled off the wooden table like a teardrop.
  • The man held the his mother’s home cooked meal like a memory
  • My memories of her family were like a warm blanket or a familiar song.
  • The glow of her face was as bright as sunshine.

Often it is noticed that similes are used in song lyrics to convey deeper meaning by using very few words.

For example:

  • “My heart is like an open highway.” – “It’s My Life,” Bon Jovi
  • “You’re as cold as ice.” – “Cold As Ice,” Foreigner
  • “And it seems to me you lived your life, Like a candle in the wind.” – “Candle in the Wind,” Elton John

Similes are also used in company ads and slogans

  • Doritos: “Tastes Like Awesome Feels”
  • Chevrolet: “Built Like A Rock”
  • Honda: “The Honda’s ride is as smooth as a gazelle in the Sahara. It’s comfort is like a hug from Nana.”
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Exception- Similes are related to the language in which they are used. It is a figurative language and non-native speaker might not understand the meaning of the simile used as a reference by a native speaker.


A metaphor is also a figure of speech that describes a thing or an action in place of something. It is used to explain an idea, describe an object, or to make an implied comparison in a way that is not true. A metaphor is used for equating two things for the sake of comparison or symbolism even though it may not be actually same and sound strange. It is often used in English Literature or poetry to add colour, depth or quality in the language.

A metaphor compares one thing by mentioning it with another thing. It is generally used for a rhetorical effect. Sometimes it may have some sort of hidden similarities between two ideas, but that may not be the case always. There are many types of metaphor such as antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy, and simile. However, a simile compares two related things, but metaphor compares two very different and uncommon things. One of the most commonly used metaphors in English Literature is the “All the world’s a stage” monologue from As You Like It written by William Shakespeare. We often cite this metaphor “the world’s your oyster,” written by Shakespeare.

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances[…]

—William Shakespeare, As You Like It,

Most seasoned and good writers know their way around all these types of figures of speech including metaphors, similes, etc. When the character from Shakespeare plays used the sentence “the world’s your oyster,” this was a boastful way of the character to describe that every riches around the world is in his hand for the taking similar to plucking a pearl from an oyster shell.

Uses of Metaphors

Metaphors are used to provide an effect on any sentence or statement. For example “She was drowning in a sea of grief.” This sentence means that the girl mentioned in the statement is sad. However, the reader will be able to get a better idea of the depth of the girl’s grief by the use of the metaphor.

Therefore, metaphors are used for giving an impact to the sentences in the minds of the reader. It helps in describing a situation or sentences in a better manner than a simple statement. Yes, it can be said that they are kind of exaggerated, but they are exaggerated to make a statement more profound or to paint a more vivid picture.

Some Common metaphor and their meaning

Below examples demonstrate situations or persons compared to the real thing.

  • She is drowning in a sea of grief- The girl mentioned in the statement is sad
  • Henry is fishing in troubled waters- Henry is trying to achieve something which is very difficult to obtain.
  • Success is a bastard as it has many fathers, and failure is an orphan, with no takers- This metaphor means that everyone wants to take credit for a successful thing or for something that becomes successful. However, no one wants to take responsibility for a particular thing the moment it becomes a failure even though a lot of hard work, time, and creativity had gone into it. Just like an orphan failure is left behind and nobody wants a part of it.
  • The incident left her with a broken heart- This metaphor means experiencing sadness and feeling hurt.
  • She impresses everyone with her bubbly personality- Cheerful personality or attitude.
  • The Johnson family’s grandchild is the apple of their eye- someone/something that is beloved and held very dear. Close to the heart.
  • After witnessing the accident in front of her eyes, Jennifer went through a rollercoaster of emotions- experiencing a lot of ups and down in an individual’s emotions.
  • “Time is like a thief” the writer explained- This metaphor means time passes rapidly and an individual’s life passes by without even realizing that the time is passing so quickly.
  • John is a bit under the weather and is feeling blue- feeling sad
  • The little girl faded off to sleep while her mother continued reading her bedtime story- someone goes to sleep
  • The Stench of failure cannot be hidden by lies, the player remarked- this metaphor means failure is strong.

Metaphor Examples for Intermediate Readers

  • The slashes indicate line breaks.
  • The police listened to her story with a wooden face.
  • Jennifer believed that life was a fashion show.
  • Every teenage boy’s room is a disaster area.
  • John’s cotton candy words were too good to be true. Kathy arrived at the grocery store with an army of children.
  • Jennifer felt lost in a sea of nameless faces.
  • Even though she tried to solve Ana’s problem but it was just a Band-Aid, not a solution.
  • The fruit of knowledge is always sweeter when it is achieved through hard work and dedication.
  • The writer demonstrated a promise between the two characters as a delicate flower.
  • Janet’s heart was cold iron and forgiving someone was impossible for her.
  • The path of resentment is easier to travel than the road to forgiveness.
  • The beggar’s plan to build his own house was a house of cards on a crooked table.
  • The saint explained “The wheels of justice turn slowly.”
  • She cut him down with her words.
  • The black board in the classroom was an old dinosaur.
  • Laughter is the music of the soul.
  • A teacher is known to plant seeds of wisdom in children.
  • It was very hot this time in the summers and working in the garden pierced daggers of heat through the clothes.
  • A child’s hope is a fragile seed.
  • We all were glued to seats sharp at 9 PM to watch the latest movie.
  • Words are the weapons with which anyone can be hurt if not used properly.
  • Scars are the roadmap to the soul.
  • The play brought a sea of tears in everyone’s eyes.
  • The little boy watched the cloud sailing across the sky.

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