The way you communicate facts becomes all the more captivating when you stir up your audience’s imaginations. And one way to touch the artistic side of the brain is to use literary devices.
Literary devices are tools that use figurative language, or words that reflect more than their literal meanings, in order to bring the words to life. One of these tools is the simile.
What Is a Simile?
A simile is a figure of speech that makes a direct comparison between two different things. By direct, we mean that a simile uses the terms “like” or “as” to show the similarities between the two given objects.
What’s the Difference Between Metaphor and Simile?
Simile and metaphor are two of the most common figures of speech that are used not just in writing, but also in daily conversation. Their main difference is that a simile makes an indirect comparison, while a metaphor makes a direct one by stating that something “is” something else.
How do you know if the comparison being made is direct or indirect? The comparison is direct when it uses words such as “as” and “like,” building a clear link between the two things. An indirect comparison happens when the comparison is implied.
However, the purpose of both similes and metaphors is basically the same: they help us to imagine certain ideas by making direct or indirect comparisons to other objects.
What Is an Example of a Simile?
To illustrate, here are some sentence examples of simile:
- The new kid in our class is as funny as a monkey.
- The villain in the story was as cunning as a fox.
- Her laughter sounded like tinkling bells.
- The students were busy as bees getting the school ready for Parent-Teacher Night.
- Stop fighting like cats and dogs!
- He was so tired, he slept like a log all night.
To help you use simile in your writing, here are some of the most common examples:
- Bright as the sun
- Deep as the ocean
- White as a sheet
- Cold as ice
- Brave as a lion
- Busy as a bee
- Wise as serpents, innocent as doves
- Sweet as chocolate
- Hard as flint
- Sour as a lemon
- Messy as a pig sty
- Sweating like a horse
- Hard as a rock
- Smooth as a baby’s skin
Examples of Simile in Literature
Here are some examples of simile used in literature. (The similes are in bold to help you find them easily.)
Example #1. From “Thumbelina” in Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
There was once a woman who wished very much to have a little child, but she could not obtain her wish. At last she went to a fairy, and said, “I should so very much like to have a little child; can you tell me where I can find one?”
“Oh, that can be easily managed,” said the fairy. “Here is a barleycorn of a different kind to those which grow in the farmer’s fields, and which the chickens eat; put it into a flower-pot, and see what will happen.”
“Thank you,” said the woman, and she gave the fairy twelve shillings, which was the price of the barleycorn. Then she went home and planted it, and immediately there grew up a large handsome flower, something like a tulip in appearance, but with its leaves tightly closed as if it were still a bud. “It is a beautiful flower,” said the woman, and she kissed the red and golden-colored leaves, and while she did so the flower opened, and she could see that it was a real tulip. Within the flower, upon the green velvet stamens, sat a very delicate and graceful little maiden. She was scarcely half as long as a thumb, and they gave her the name of “Thumbelina,” or Tiny, because she was so small.
Example #2. From Song of Solomon from The Holy Bible (English Standard Version)
Behold, you are beautiful, my love,~ Song of Solomon 4:1-3
behold, you are beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Example #3. From Daffodils by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
Example #4. From Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
“Well, this place used to be called Tarrigo Lake, when it was a lake. That was a long time ago, though. Nowadays folks call it Gone-Away. Gone-Away Lake.”
“See, what did I say, Porsh? It was a lake once!” exclaimed Julian proudly, as if she had argued the matter.
“Oh, a beautiful lake,” said Mrs. Cheever. “Small but clear, and blue as–blue as–laundry bluing! Boats on it! Boat like butterflies skimming and dipping. We had one; Papa did. The Trixie II…”
Example #5. From Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien
“Don’t worry,” she said. “Mr Ages gave me some medicine for him and says he will recover.” She mixed the contents of one of the packets, a gray-green powder, in water, and then gently shook Timothy awake.
He smiled. “You’re back,” he said in a voice as small as a whisper.
“I’m back, and I’ve brought you some medicine. Mr. Ages says it will make you all right.” She lifted his head on her arm, and he swallowed the medicine. “I expect it’s bitter,” she said.
“It’s not so bad,” he said. “It tastes like pepper.” And he fell back to sleep immediately.
Using Similes in Writing
As you can see from the examples above, using similes in writing can help your readers imagine a scene more vividly by comparing two seemingly unrelated things.
This makes your writing come alive in their minds and will help you to capture their imaginations.
Do you have a favorite example of a simile? Share it in the comments below!