Definition of simile

a figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as (as in cheeks like roses)— compare METAPHOR

Simile vs. Metaphor

Many people have trouble distinguishing between simile and metaphor. A glance at their Latin and Greek roots offers a simple way of telling these two closely-related figures of speech apart. Simile comes from the Latin word similis (meaning “similar, like”), which seems fitting, since the comparison indicated by a simile will typically contain the words as or likeMetaphor, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word metapherein (“to transfer”), which is also fitting, since a metaphor is used in place of something. “My love is like a red, red rose” is a simile, and “love is a rose” is a metaphor.

Examples of simile in a Sentence

But Dickens finds the unexpected detail, the vivid simile. Think of Joe Gargery in Great Expectations, “with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they seemed to have somehow got mixed with their own whites.” Or, in David Copperfield, Dora’s cousin “in the Life-Guards, with such long legs that he looked like the afternoon shadow of somebody else.”— James Wood, New Republic, 14 Dec. 1998 After the internship year, doctors assume greater responsibility for directing patient care. Dr. Shockcor at West Virginia offered a homely simile: “It’s like working in a factory, putting doors on cars. I’m now responsible that the doors get put on right, whereas as an intern I had to make sure I had a door in my hands and didn’t miss a car going by.”— Michael Harwood, New York Times Magazine, 3 June 1984 See More Recent Examples on the WebThere’s a common simile, metaphor, Sandy, about the difficulty of turning an aircraft carrier.— CBS News, 1 Sep. 2021 Wright transforms Caravaggio’s theatrical chiaroscuro lighting technique, popularized in the 16th and 17th centuries as a religious simile for spiritual illumination, into a metaphor of rational enlightenment

See also  pain

First Known Use of simile

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for simile

Middle English, from Latin, comparison, from neuter of similis

Learn More About simile

Share simile Post the Definition of simile to Facebook Share the Definition of simile on Twitter

Time Traveler for simile

The first known use of simile was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near simile



similia similibus curantur See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for simile

Look-up Popularity

Top 1% of words

Cite this Entry

“Simile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2022.Style: MLA

Check Mark Icon

More Definitions for simile

similenounsim·​i·​le | \ ˈsi-mə-ˌlē  \

Kids Definition of simile

a figure of speech comparing two unlike things using like or as“Their cheeks are like roses” is a simile. “Their cheeks are roses” is a metaphor.

More from Merriam-Webster on simile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for simile

Nglish: Translation of simile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of simile for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about simile

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.