Photo of author


A simile is a figure of speech that is not meant to be understood by its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of simile, where the word came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A simile is a phrase used in a sentence that is a comparison of one thing with something else using the word like or the word as. A simile may compare two things with qualities that do not seem related, though there must be some similarity that is either literal or figurative. Writers use similes in prose and in poetry as literary devices used to paint vivid imagery. Similes are used to communicate to the listener or reader an idea or emphasize an attribute, sometimes through exaggeration, in a few amount of words.  One famous example of a simile is the quote from the movie Forrest Gump: “My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The simile is used to illustrate the resemblance between life and a box of chocolates. At first consideration, there seems to be nothing that links the two ideas. However, the phrase is descriptive of a figurative meaning; one does not know what life holds for him until he experiences it, like taking a bite out of a piece of candy that may have a center made of caramel or a center made of coconut. Robert Burns penned a poem that is full of similes referring to love, named a Red, Red Rose: “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 figure of speech that is used for comparing two different things is a metaphor. If you become confused, remember that a  metaphor differs from a simile in that a simile is a comparison using the word like or the word as. Both similes and metaphors describe the resemblance of certain items to each other, using figurative language and imagination to convey ideas. An idiom is a figure of speech that is not to be taken by its literal meaning. Some expressions are both a simile and an idiom. For instance, like a rolling stone is both a simile and an idiom. The plural form of simile is similes. The word simile is derived from the Latin word simile, which means like or parallel.


By the fifth time these similes showed up, I began to envision a woman with a face like a gooey dessert plate; this image temporarily salvaged my flagging interest. (The Huffington Post)

He said that, sufis and sufism enjoy the deeply ingrained reverence and high level esteem among masses for encoding the message of religion in local languages using the indigenous similes and local popular proverbs and idioms. (The International News)

Every idiosyncrasy of his characters, every line of dialogue, every perfect simile used to describe an action or a man or a community, created a world that was not only beautiful but, in some fictitious sense, filled with lessons and analyses that were utterly real. (The Globe and Mail)

If you have forgotten the difference between a simile and a metaphor, for example, you may struggle on the SAT literature subject test. (US News and World Report)