Guide to Literary Terms

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What are similes and metaphors?

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A simile is a comparison of two things using the words "like" or "as."

For example: He was as big as a house.

The party was like a funeral.

A metaphor is a direct comparison of two things without using "like" or "as."

For example: She is a goddess!

The show was a bomb.

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A simile is a comparison between two unlike objects using the words like or as in the sentence. 

" Over time, many similes that we use in everyday language have become clichés, for example, as quiet as a mouse, as soft as a feather, as green as grass."

A metaphor compares two dissimilar things suggesting that one thing is another, not using the words like or as.

"A famous metaphor is from William Shakespeare's As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII, when the character Jaques recites the soliloquy, "All the world's a stage/And all the men and women merely players." 

I am a rainbow (metaphor), bright and shining like the sun (simile)

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What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor?

Similes and metaphors are often confused with one another as they are both forms of comparison and are similar.

A simile means to be like something. When people are conveying a message to someone else they often use similes to help the other person understand what it is they are saying. For example, someone may ask you how your trip to the dentist was. You may respond that you feel like a beaten up punching bag. This is an example of a simile. 

A metaphor takes it a step further. Instead of saying something is like another, we say it is another. "An education is the passport to your future" is an example of a metaphor. You are not saying it is like a passport, but it is a passport.

Here are some more examples:

Examples of Simile:

  • She swins like a fish.
  • He's as hairy as a gorilla.
  • Peter laughs like a hyena.
  • Mr. John is as wise as an owl.

Examples of Metaphor:

  • He was a tornado, blasting his way through the opposing team.
  • He was a lion in the fight.
  • The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.

 

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What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor?

These two figures of speech are quite similar.  They both compare one thing to another as a way of describing the first thing.  But they are different because a simile does this directly while a metaphor does it indirectly.

A simile always has the word "like" or "as" in it.  So, for example, you can say that death came and took someone away "like a thief in the night."  That is a simile -- it is saying that death and a thief are similar and it does so directly by using the word "like."

A metaphor does not use the word "like."  An example of this is from Romeo and Juliet.  Romeo says "It is the east, and Juliet is the sun."  He is comparing her to the sun, but he is not saying she is like it -- she is saying she is the sun.

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What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor?

A simile and a metaphor are both literary devices used to compare one thing to another or to transfer the sense or aspect of one thing onto another. The major difference is the fact that a simile is a type of metaphor whereas not all metaphors are considered similes.

A simile explicitly refers to comparisons that use the words "like" or "as" to connect the two concepts. 

Ex. "That house is as big as a mansion" or "He's tall like a tree."

Once more, this can also be considered a metaphor—however every other type does not need to use like or as as part of the connection. 

Ex. "Don't cross that bridge before you come to it" is a metaphor for "don't worry about something before you need to."

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What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor?

A simile is a comparison that uses "like" or "as." 

"Sally was as red as an apple."

A metaphor is a comparison as well but it doesn't use "like" or "as," and the comparison is more direct.

For example: "Education is a vital instrument of progression in society." Education is being likened to an instrument very directly.

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What are the definitions of metaphor and simile?

Both simile and metaphor are terms used by literary critics to describe figures of thought (one of the types of figures of speech) used in literary works. Both metaphor and simile are figures of comparison, i.e. explaining on thing by comparing it to something else. The major rationale behind this sort of figure is to explain the abstract in terms of the concrete or strange in terms of the familiar. The difference between simile and metaphor is linguistic, that a simile uses explicit terms of comparison (like, as, etc.) whereas a metaphor does not.

An example of a metaphor would be Shakespeare's:

Dawn in russet mantle clad ...

where the dawn is being compared to a woman wearing a red cloak. A famous simile is Robert Burns'

My love is like a red, red rose ...

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