Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of simile?

The definition of simile is a metaphorical phrase comparing two unlike things using the word “like” or “as.”


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A simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison of two unlike things with the help of comparative words such as like or as. Remember, similes are a form of figurative language, so watch out for phrases that use a like or as format but are actually meant literally.

Correct example:

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright./ It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/ Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear.”

Incorrect example:

“He straightened his tie and sighed with relief to see that he looked like himself again.”

  • This phrase does not qualify as a simile because the terms being compared are not really different; in other words, it is meant literally.


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