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Metaphor vs. Simile: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A metaphor directly states one thing is another for symbolic effect, while a simile compares two different things using "like" or "as."
Metaphor vs. Simile

Key Differences

A metaphor is a figure of speech where a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. A simile, on the other hand, compares two different things explicitly using the words "like" or "as," highlighting similarities between them.
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Nov 22, 2023
Metaphors create a direct symbolic relationship, often imbuing the subject with qualities of the metaphor. Similes, while also drawing a comparison, maintain a clear distinction between the two elements being compared, often for illustrative purposes.
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Nov 22, 2023
The use of metaphors can add depth and a more profound meaning to language by merging concepts. Similes, though similar in purpose, often provide clarity and help the reader understand an unfamiliar concept by comparing it to a familiar one.
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Nov 22, 2023
Metaphors are integral in shaping the way we understand abstract concepts or complex ideas by linking them to concrete images or experiences. Similes, while also creating connections, tend to be more straightforward and easier to recognize due to the explicit use of "like" or "as."
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Nov 22, 2023
Metaphors are often more subtle and can be more challenging to identify, as they require the reader to find the inherent connection. Similes are generally more apparent and simpler to understand, as they clearly denote the comparison being made.
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Comparison Chart

Form of Speech

Implicit comparison
Explicit comparison using "like" or "as"
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Complexity

Often more complex and subtle
Usually clearer and more straightforward
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Nov 22, 2023

Usage in Language

Symbolic and abstract
Illustrative and comparative
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Nov 22, 2023

Example Phrases

"Time is a thief"
"As busy as a bee"
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Nov 22, 2023

Effect on Imagery

Creates a direct symbolic image
Draws a comparison, maintaining distinct imagery
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Nov 22, 2023
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Metaphor and Simile Definitions

Metaphor

A figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true.
The world is a stage.
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Nov 17, 2023

Simile

A figure of speech comparing two different things using “like” or “as.”
As brave as a lion.
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Nov 17, 2023

Metaphor

A rhetorical device used to convey hidden similarities.
He has a heart of stone.
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Nov 17, 2023

Simile

A literary tool used for vivid descriptive language.
He runs like the wind.
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Nov 17, 2023

Metaphor

An implied comparison between two unlike things.
Her voice is music to my ears.
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Nov 17, 2023
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Simile

An explicit analogy between two things for effect.
Her cheeks are red like a rose.
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Nov 17, 2023

Metaphor

A symbolic representation of a concept or quality.
Time is a thief.
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Nov 17, 2023

Simile

An expression making a comparison, often used in poetry and literature.
They fought like cats and dogs.
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Nov 17, 2023

Metaphor

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison, as in "a sea of troubles" or "All the world's a stage" (Shakespeare).
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Oct 19, 2023

Simile

A comparison highlighting similarities between two distinct objects.
Her smile was as bright as the sun.
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Metaphor

One thing conceived as representing another; a symbol
"Hollywood has always been an irresistible, prefabricated metaphor for the crass, the materialistic, the shallow, and the craven" (Neal Gabler).
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Oct 19, 2023

Simile

A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as, as in "How like the winter hath my absence been" or "So are you to my thoughts as food to life" (Shakespeare).
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Metaphor

The use of a word or phrase to refer to something other than its literal meaning, invoking an implicit similarity between the thing described and what is denoted by the word or phrase.
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Oct 19, 2023

Simile

A figure of speech in which one thing is explicitly compared to another, using e.g. like or as.
Figure of speech
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Oct 19, 2023

Metaphor

A word or phrase used in such implied comparison.
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Oct 19, 2023

Simile

A word or phrase by which anything is likened, in one or more of its aspects, to something else; a similitude; a poetical or imaginative comparison.
A good swift simile, but something currish.
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Metaphor

The use of an everyday object or concept to represent an underlying facet of the computer and thus aid users in performing tasks.
Desktop metaphor; wastebasket metaphor
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Oct 19, 2023

Simile

A figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with `like' or `as')
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Oct 19, 2023

Metaphor

(intransitive) To use a metaphor.
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Oct 19, 2023

Metaphor

(transitive) To describe by means of a metaphor.
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Metaphor

The transference of the relation between one set of objects to another set for the purpose of brief explanation; a compressed simile; e. g., the ship plows the sea.
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Oct 19, 2023

Metaphor

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
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Oct 19, 2023

Metaphor

An expression where words are used in a non-literal sense.
The classroom was a zoo.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are similes only used in poetry?

No, similes are used in various forms of writing and speech, including everyday language.
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Nov 22, 2023

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is a figure of speech where a word or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable.
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Nov 22, 2023

Is a metaphor always obvious?

Not always; metaphors can be subtle and require interpretation to understand the implied comparison.
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Nov 22, 2023

How do metaphors affect communication?

Metaphors can enrich communication by conveying complex ideas in a relatable way.
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Nov 22, 2023

What is an extended metaphor?

An extended metaphor continues throughout a series of sentences or even an entire piece of writing.
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Nov 22, 2023

Is it common to use mixed similes?

While mixed similes can occur, they are generally avoided as they can confuse the reader.
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Nov 22, 2023

Can metaphors be used in everyday language?

Yes, metaphors are commonly used in everyday language to add emphasis or creativity.
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Nov 22, 2023

How does a simile differ from a metaphor?

A simile compares two different things using "like" or "as," whereas a metaphor directly states one thing is another.
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Nov 22, 2023

What is an example of a simile in literature?

An example is, "Her eyes shone like stars."
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How do children learn metaphors and similes?

Children learn these figures of speech through exposure in conversation, reading, and education.
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Nov 22, 2023

Can a metaphor exist in a single word?

Yes, a single word can serve as a metaphor when it symbolizes something beyond its literal meaning.
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Nov 22, 2023

Can similes be used in persuasive writing?

Yes, similes can be effective in persuasive writing to make comparisons clearer and more impactful.
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Nov 22, 2023

Do similes make writing more descriptive?

Yes, similes are often used to make descriptions more vivid and relatable.
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Nov 22, 2023

Are similes easier to understand than metaphors?

Generally, similes are more straightforward due to their explicit comparison using "like" or "as."
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Nov 22, 2023

Why are similes used in storytelling?

Similes are used in storytelling to create vivid imagery and help readers visualize scenes and characters.
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Nov 22, 2023

Are similes culturally specific?

Some similes can be culturally specific, drawing on comparisons familiar within a particular culture.
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Nov 22, 2023

How do metaphors influence readers' perceptions?

Metaphors can profoundly shape readers' perceptions by linking abstract ideas to familiar concepts.
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Nov 22, 2023

Can metaphors be visual?

Yes, metaphors can create strong visual images by comparing things symbolically.
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Nov 22, 2023

What's the difference in complexity between metaphors and similes?

Metaphors are often more complex and require more interpretation, while similes are more direct.
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Nov 22, 2023

Can metaphors become clichés?

Yes, overused metaphors can become clichés and lose their original impact.
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Nov 22, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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