Guide to Literary Terms

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Simile

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.