What is a metaphor? Can you give some examples?

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is also such a thing as a metaphysical conceit--also a metaphor, but a comparsion between two seemingly unrelated things.

John Donne is a master at this, and an example of this is in his poem, "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" where he compares his love for his wife to a compass and also where he compares his love for his wife to gold.

The man is leaving his wife for a business trip and he tells her their love above all the crying and physical mourning.  He says you are the fixed foot (of the compass) and I am the part with the pencil...the farther away I travel, we never really part.  You just lean toward me until I come home again and we are again together.

He also compares their love to gold.  He says we never leave each other--absence makes our hearts grow fonder and we are connected not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally.  So, like gold, when you beat it, it never breaks.  It only expands to an airy thinness like gold foil.  We are like that.

Metaphors are a comparison between two things without the words "like" or "as".  Usually the comparison is fairly obvious or take little thought to make the connection.

Metaphysical conceits are metaphors taken to the next level. 


playsthething eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A metaphor is one of several types of figurative language (simile, synechdoche, personification, hyperbole, etc.).  It is similar to a simile, but is less obvious because it does not use "like" or "as".  For example, if I say that the my son's eyes are as blue as sapphires, that is a simile.  However, if I just say that my son's eyes are sapphires, it's a metaphor.  This is a very simplistic way of looking at it, but it's the basic difference between simile and metaphor (something that students tend to struggle with).  

You might also hear of an extended metaphor.  That's when a writer sets up a metaphor and extends it beyond its initial meaning.  For example, let's say I've set up my metaphor of my son's eyes being sapphires which establishes their color, but then I might go on to discuss their value and preciousness.  That would extend the metaphor beyond its initial use of describing the color of my son's eyes.

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An easy way to remember metaphor is:

A metaphor is a comparison between two things without the use of like or as (it's almost the same as a simile, except we omit the like or as)

Some examples of metaphors are:

Time is a river

(Time is being compared to a river, perhaps because rivers flow on endlessly just like time passes endlessly)

Don't change a horse in the middle of a race

(Here the comparison is not as easy to see. This is a comparison between a horse race and perhaps someone faced with a decision to press on with a project or to change a course of action. For example, if a person was a senior in college it wouldn't be wise to change majors because it will take a long time to finish just like if a person in a horse race decided to change horses in the middle- he surely will lose so it would be unwise.)

opalwrites eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A metaphor is a form of direct comparison, where one thing is said to be another, directly, by using the verb "to be".

For example:

  • The boy is a cypress press.
  • James is a stallion dashing across the savannah, all grace and speed.
  • The toddler is a butterfly flitting from his mother to his father's arms.
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's sonnets are full of metaphors and are probably the best examples of metaphors. Read especially sonnet LXXIII, beginning:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin'd choirs, where lete the sweet birds sang.

cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A metaphor is a comparison between two things as if they were the same.   Examples:

His marriage was a noose around his neck.

Her hair was a drowned rat.

The butterfly was a beautiful painting of color. 

jfahr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A metaphor is literary tool used to compare two things, without the use of the words like or as.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A metaphor is much more than a figure of speech. We tend to think it metaphors and to dream in metaphors. A great poet like Shakespeare can write in metaphors. Our brains can make metaphors out of practically anything. It is part of the way we think. We equate one thing with another. We use metaphors in our daily speech because we see connections between different things.He's a Napoleon. She's a princess. That car is a lemon. Marriage is slavery. Old age is hell. Sometimes we repeat other people's metaphors, but occasionally we come up spontaneously with metaphors of our own, and sometimes other people take them up and they spread across the country. Life is a rat race. Travel is a fools' paradise. Horse racing is a sucker's game. A useful trade is a mine of gold. A penny saved is a penny earned. Metaphors aren't just for decoration but express important truths in few words. 

Here is a video about metaphors:

nicole8923 | Student

A metaphor is used when you are trying to compare two or more things without using the words, "like" or "as".


  1. His head was spinning with ideas.
  2. Her home was a prison.
  3. She has a heart of gold.
  4. It is raining cats and dogs.
  5. You had better pull your socks up.
  6. The noise is music to her ears.
  7. You light up my life with your presence.
  8. My memory is a little cloudy about that incident.
  9. He basted her with flattery to get the job.
  10. Keep your eyes peeled.
  11. Take a moment to digest the info.
  12. A rainbow of flavors.
adarshanurag | Student

Metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action that it does not literally denote in order to imply a resemblance. In simpler words, it is pointing our a resemblance without using words 'as' and 'like'.

Eg:- "Are fed by peaceful harvests, by war's long winter starved"

       "Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow"

       " That time of year thou mayst in me behold"

ssandhu05 | Student

The definition of a metaphor is this: it's a figure of speech, used normally in literature, that compares two things without using "like" or "as." The reason why they do not use "like" or "as" is because a simile is the exact same thing as a metaphor, but it defined clearly when "like" or "as" are used. An example of metaphors would be: "He turned over a new leaf."

sid-sarfraz | Student

A metaphor can be defined as the phrase used to show comparison between two things, animals, places and people, without using simile i.e. words "like" and "as". These mainly are used to properly describe or visualize or imagine any thought, basically showing the association between the two things.

Examples of metaphor's are as follows:-

  • Time is an endless roller coaster ride
  • You are my guardian angel
  • My husband is a knight in a shining armor
  • Curiosity killed the cat
taangerine | Student

A metaphor is a figure of speech that does not use 'like' or 'as'. 

crystaltu001 | Student

A metaphor is a phrase that does not use the words "like" or "as" to compare two things. An example of a metaphor is " Life is a journey ".

atyourservice | Student

A metaphor compares two or more things without using the word like or as:

An example of a metaphor would be:

She is a walking book.

maria-vivanco | Student

A metaphor is when one does a comparison between two things without using like or as. For example, telling someone "that test was a piece of cake". You aren't necessarily saying that the test was a literal piece of cake you are just making a comparison. 

Another form of metaphor that is commonly used is when you use something to represent something. 

kevin0001 | Student

A metaphor is a type of figurative speech that describes two things. This may sound just like a simile but a metaphor doesn't use "like" or "as" to describe the two things. Examples of a metaphor would be : 

1. Life is a never ending roller coaster ride.       

2. My friend has a heart of gold. 

3. Love is a battlefield.   

And etc.

udonbutterfly | Student

A metaphor is a comparison between two things without using as, and like.

For example:

1. "Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love. I'd stepped in it a few times."
(Rita Rudner)

2. "Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food."
(Austin O'Malley)

3. "Life is a zoo in a jungle."
(Peter De Vries)

ik9744 | Student

A metaphor is describing you like something without like or as. Opposite of a simile.


This pillow is a cloud

This dog is a cupid 

nisarg | Student

A metaphor is usually a small phrase. It compares 2 things that are not similar without using "like" or "as". 


The man was a giraffe.

The people were ants.

The test was a piece of cake.

jess1999 | Student

A metaphor is comparison between two unlike things. Unlike a simile, metaphor does not compare the two unlike things with words such as "like" 'as". For example, "My head is as hard as a rock." That is a simile because it is comparing a head to the hardness of a rock with the word "as".

Examples of metaphors

Her laughter is music

Her eyes are stars

user588402 | Student

A  Metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object.


The snow is a white blanket.

Life is a roller coaster.

Time is money.

He is a shiny star.

She is a peacock.

Tom's eyes were eyes.

arrellbelle | Student

A metaphor is a literary device that, unlike a simile, does not utilize 'like' or 'as', to make a comparison between two objects or ideas.

For example: 

  1. He was a tank; therefore, he did not falter in battle.
  2. Her beauty was timeless and therefore, I will not forget her.
parama9000 | Student

It is a figure of speech with a tenor and a vehicle. 

The paper was a smooth face, easily crinkled and as white as ever.

tenor: paper 

vehicle: smooth face

Wiggin42 | Student

A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares two things without using like or as. (As opposed to a simile which compares two things using like or as.)

One clichéd example of a metaphor is: 

The sun is a fireball. 

In this case we're comparing the sun to a fireball. 

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which you compare two things without the use of like or as. 

For example:

            His feet were hooves that stomped the ground demanding his presence to be noticed. This is a metaphor whereas "His feet were like hooves..." would be considered a simile. 

            Time is a thief is a metaphor where as "time is like a thief" would be considered a simile. 

rimmery | Student

A metaphor is a phrase or sentence that compares two things without using the word "like" or "as".

Some examples are:

- She is my sunshine (comparing "her" to "sunshine)

- My house is a prison! (house vs. prison)

The above all use nouns to compare objects, but metaphors can also be used with verbs. Examples below.

- Roller coaster of emotions (emotions go up and down like a roller coaster)

- Their relationship turned sour. (sour as in something like a lemon. Not a good thing)

mrsmayo | Student

A metaphor is a word or phrase that is used to make a comparison between two people, things, animals, or places. It is a type of figuritive language used to be defining and descriptive. Examples:

The snow is a white blanket.

America is a melting pot.

Her lovely voice was music to his ears.

Life is a rollercoaster.

The alligator’s teeth are white daggers.

Their home was a prison.

His heart is a cold iron.

She is a peacock.

He is a shinning star.

Time is money.

**** Notice "like" or "as" is not in the examples. If either were used, it would be a simile instead.  

zumba96 | Student

A metaphor is when you are comparing more than one item or thing to another.

Examples such as in Romeo and Juliet;

  •  “She doth teach the torches to burn bright” Saying that her beauty is much brighter than the torches
  • "My lips two blushing pilgrims ready stand" Saying their two lips are blushing pilgrims ready to be caught in the act of sin or kissing one another
Yojana_Thapa | Student

A Metaphor is a figurative speech which is an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that"s have something important in common. It doesn't use "like" or "as".

AN example would be :

"Life is a journey, travel it well."

qasenior | Student

when you compare two things not using the word like or as. 

For example, in Shakespear's  play, Romeo and Juliet... Romeo says: Juliet is the sun. 

Juliet is compared to being the bright and amazing sun. 

shifaullahsamee | Student

 A metaphor is an implicit description of one thing in term of an entirely different thing to create a new and novel image, and to compare the hidden abstractness in both things. For example,

She runs in the veins of her lover.

Without her, his heart was a dry well.

slcuster04 | Student

A metaphor compares something to something else by making it the something else.

Carl Sandburg's poem Fog has a line that goes 

"The fog rolled in on little cat feet"

That is a metaphor for how quiet fog shows up on land by comparing it to how quietly a cat walks.  No one suspects it, and it just is there without much warning.

nicoledesilva | Student

Example : The paper was a peice of cake.

nicoledesilva | Student

A metaphor is acually a simile, but without the use of 'like' and 'as'.

harshitasnehal | Student

A metaphor is an indirect comparison between the qualities of objects  or people.

 For eg. He was a lion in the battle.

here quality of lion i.e. bravery is compared with that of his.

lolodancer | Student

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.


1.) She's the apple of my eye.

2.) The movie struck a spark that massaged the audience's conscience.

3.) I'm heartbroken.

These are several.

dorae | Student

when you describe something by referring to something else which is the same in a particular way

ex:if we want to say that someone is frightened of things we can say that he is a mouse. so, we here  described him as a mouse because they are the same in their fear of things.


vnessawong21 | Student

A metaphor is a powerful figure of speech which subtly compares two things without the use of the words "like" and "as". These comparisons can be incredibly potent as they have the ability to paint powerful images or completely change someone's perspective on an object. 

Example: That cat has the heart of a lion. 

faithm99 | Student

A metaphor is a phrase that does not use the words "like or "as"

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