A simile is a figure of speech that says that one thing is like another different thing. We can use similes to make descriptions more emphatic or vivid.
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We often use the words as…as and like with similes.
Common patterns for similes, with example sentences, are:
something AS adjective AS somethingHis skin was as cold as ice.It felt as hard as rock.She looked as gentle as a lamb.something LIKE somethingMy love is like a red, red rose.These cookies taste like garbage.He had a temper (that was) like a volcano.something LIKE somethingHe eats like a pig.He smokes like a chimney.They fought like cats and dogs.
* stative verb: be, feel, smell, taste etc** action verb
Here are some more examples of well-known similes:
|AS adjective AS something||meaning|
|as blind as a bat||completely blind|
|as cold as ice||very cold|
|as flat as a pancake||completely flat|
|as gentle as a lamb||very gentle|
|as light as a feather||very light|
|as old as the hills||very old|
|as sharp as a knife||very sharp|
|as strong as a bull||very strong|
|as white as snow||pure white|
|as wise as an owl||very wise|
|LIKE something||possible meaning (depending on context)|
|like a rose||beautiful|
|like a volcano||explosive|
|like an animal||inhuman|
|like dewdrops||sweet and pure|
|like a tip||very untidy (tip = garbage dump)|
|like a dream||wonderful, incredible|
|like stars||bright and beautiful|
|to drink like a fish||to drink a lot|
|to eat like a bird||to eat very little|
|to eat like a horse||to eat a lot|
|to eat like a pig||to eat impolitely|
|to fight like cats and dogs||to fight fiercely|
|to sing like an angel||to sing beautifully|
|to sleep like a log||to sleep well and soundly|
|to smoke like a chimney||to smoke heavily, all the time|
|to soar like an eagle||to fly high and free|
|to work like a dog||to work very hard|
Note that with the AS…AS pattern, the first AS is sometimes suppressed, for example:
His skin was cold as ice.
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The above patterns of simile are the most common, but there are others made with adverbs or words such as than and as if, for example:
He ran as fast as the wind.He is larger than life.They ran as if for their lives.
Similes can include other figures of speech. For example, “He ran like greased lightning” is a simile that includes hyperbole (greased lightning).
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Similes often make use of irony or sarcasm. In such cases they may even mean the opposite of the adjective used. Look at these examples:
His explanation was as clear as mud. (not clear at all since mud is opaque)The film was about as interesting as watching a copy of Windows download. (long and boring)Watching the show was like watching paint dry. (very boring)
Similes are often found (and they sometimes originate) in poetry and other literature. Here are a few examples:
A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle – Irina DunnDawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh – Wilfred OwenDeath has many times invited me: it was like the salt invisible in the waves – Pablo NerudaGuiltless forever, like a tree – Robert BrowningHappy as pigs in mud – David EddingsHow like the winter hath my absence been – William ShakespeareAs idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean – Samuel Taylor ColeridgeJubilant as a flag unfurled – Dorothy ParkerSo are you to my thoughts as food to life – William ShakespeareYellow butterflies flickered along the shade like flecks of sun – William Faulkner
Popular songs, too, make use of simile:
A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle – U2Cheaper than a hot dog with no mustard – Beastie BoysI must do what’s right, as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti – TotoIt’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog – The BeatlesLike A Rolling Stone – Bob DylanLike a bat outta hell – Meat LoafMy heart is like an open highway – Jon Bon JoviThese are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall – Led ZeppelinThick as a Brick – Jethro TullYou are as subtle as a brick to the small of my back – Taking Back Sunday
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