Figure of Speech

Similes () vs. Metaphor ()


(A) Similes () are figures of speech, explicit comparisons between two unlike things, using “like” or “as” and the like, to suggest the resemblance.


For example:

1.       He sings like a nightingale.

2.     He can run as fast as a leopard.

3.     He is big as a hippo.

4.     Teaching English is as easy as (learning) ABC.

5.     Life is like a battlefield.

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

O My Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
O My Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.

Sonnet 130 – William Shakespeare

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.



(B) Metaphors () are figures of speech, implied comparisons between things, to suggest resemblance or similarity, without the use of “like” or “as” and the like. 


For example:

1.        Love is mystery, and full of wonders.

2.       Life is a battlefield.

3.       Beauty is but skin deep.


Shakespeare’s play: “Macbeth” - Act V. Scene v.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.



Differences between similes and metaphors:

A simile is a comparison of two distinct things and cannot be substituted by either.  It is an approximation, as in “similar to”.   

For example:

Life is like a box of chocolate.  Life does not equate to a box of chocolate.


A metaphor equates two things despite their differences. 

For example:

Life is a battlefield.  We imply that life is exactly a battlefield.  Not similar to, but equal to.  Life = battlefield.


Shakespeare’s play: “As You Like It” – Act II Scene VII

(Metaphors – highlighted in blue)

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages.


(Similes – highlighted in yellow)

At first, the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth.


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--  To Be Continued --


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