Simile Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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We hear new words every day, but sometimes the meanings or definitions can be easily lost or misunderstood. Learning about new words is a great way to improve your every day speech. Today, your word of the day is simile.

Keep reading if you’re looking for a deeper grasp of the word simile! 

What Is the Definition of Simile?

Simile (si-muh-lee) means a figure of speech or type of figurative language that compares two contrasting things, typically introduced using like or as. 

A simile is a literary device used to compare two things that aren’t traditionally seen as similar. 

For example, a simile could be: This house is as clean as a whistle. Similes are like direct comparisons, but they aren’t claiming the two things are the exact same.

You probably use similes all the time without even realizing it! Similes are a great way to bring perspective to a sentence. Similes can be funny, and you can even expect them to be used sarcastically or ironically. 

Simile vs. Metaphor

It’s normal to get the definitions of words confused, and it’s not uncommon for people to think similes and metaphors have the same definition. While they are closely related and are both cliches, you’ll quickly see how different they are once you take a closer look.

Simile originated from the Latin language and was initially pronounced similis (meaning “similar”). Similar is actually a great way to explain the definition of simile —- you use a simile to compare two things that are similar but not the same. An example of a simile in a sentence would be “life is like a box of chocolates.”

Metaphor is an ancient word with Greek roots. Metaphor is derived from the word metapherein, which means “to transfer.” That’s appropriate considering a metaphor is used in place of something.

Here’s a quick recap of what we just learned:

  • A simile makes a comparison by stating one thing is like another — or similar. Metaphors make a comparison by claiming one thing is something else. 
  •  A metaphor claims one thing is the same as another, whereas a simile simply compares two similar things. Using a metaphor in an instance where a simile should be used might merit some confusion. 

What Is the History and Origin of Simile? 

A simile is one of the most common figures of speech used in everyday language. The word simile is middle English and started gaining popularity in from the 1350s to the 1400s. 

Similes are commonly used in poetry and literature. A famous simile is featured in a poem by Robert Burns; the line reads: “O my Luve is like a red, red rose.” Robert Burns is comparing his significant other to a rose using figurative language

The purpose of a simile is to enhance imagery by making a direct comparison to something else. The two things are (usually) unrelated. Still, when used as a simile, you begin to see how they have similarities after all — writers are renowned for their types of figurative language and thinking of creative and thought-provoking similes. 

When Can You Use a Simile? 

Similes are commonly used in literature where a connection between one object or person is made to another. You can use a simile if you’re trying to compare two things that aren’t traditionally seen as alike. 

Some similes are widely referred to and used, but that’s not to say you can’t make up your own — you have all the knowledge to do so! 

You can use a simile if you’d like to bring a more dramatic or light-hearted tone to a sentence. Similes are as versatile as you make them.

Synonyms for Simile

If you’re familiar with the use of similes but have never heard the word, here are synonyms of similes to help you better understand its meaning.

  • Likeness
  • Similitude
  • Comparison

Antonyms for Simile 

Just as simile has synonyms, it also has antonyms. 

  • Dissimilarity 
  • Difference 
  • Disagreement
  • Contrast

Examples of Similes

You now know everything there is to know about the word simile, but we also want to give you some example sentences — this way, you can start using figurative language in your everyday speech. The English language can be tricky, which is why we’re here to help you by offering the best examples of similes.

  • Cold as ice 
  • Light as a feather
  • Cool as a cucumber 
  • They’re like two peas in a pod
  • Sleeping like a log 
  • As warm as the sun 
  • Flowed like a river
  • As calm as a lake
  • Tall like a tree
  • A red, red rose

Similes Example Sentences

You better swim like a fish; they’re going to catch you!

It was chaotic. They were fighting like cats and dogs.

Since she started her new job, she has been busy as a bee.

You looked brave like a lion when you stood up for yourself.

You were as fast as a cheetah in your last race.

My grandfather was wise as an owl.

The Takeaway

Similes are a great literary term that can enhance your everyday speech. Many great poets like William Shakespeare and Robert Burns could make comparisons that made for impressive similes. 


Simile Definition & Meaning |

Simile definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

METAPHOR | Cambridge English Dictionary