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[sim-uh-lee] /ˈsɪm ə li/
a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “she is like a rose.”.
Compare metaphor.
an instance of such a figure of speech or a use of words exemplifying it.
Origin of simile
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin: image, likeness, comparison, noun use of neuter of similis similar
Can be confused
metaphor, simile. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for simile
Historical Examples
  • Thorpe never finished the simile, for it could hardly have been a proper one.

    Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh
  • simile is a form of comparison in which one thing is likened to another.

  • Apropos of the value of simile is an experiment about which I have recently heard.

  • Note the figure of speech (simile), beginning with the word like.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 10 Charles Herbert Sylvester
  • That is also a simile—one more cheerful and happy than the former, praise be to God.

    In a Mysterious Way Anne Warner
  • The frame, to pursue our simile, is to the ship what ribs are to our bodies.

    All Afloat William Wood
  • That small, cool smile made Flora feel more than ever the immature barbarian of her simile.

    The Coast of Chance Esther Chamberlain
  • There was not a line of poetry in it, and scarcely a figure or simile, and yet it was poetical.

  • This simile would acquire added strength if you'd ever seen Aunt Ca'line, her complexion being a crow's-wing sable.

    Sundry Accounts Irvin S. Cobb
  • The simile striking her as original and clever, she made him a pretty compliment.

    Athalie Robert W. Chambers
British Dictionary definitions for simile


a figure of speech that expresses the resemblance of one thing to another of a different category, usually introduced by as or like Compare metaphor
Word Origin
C14: from Latin simile something similar, from similis like
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for simile

late 14c., from Latin simile "a like thing; a comparison, likeness, parallel," neuter of similis "like" (see similar). Both things must be mentioned and the comparison directly stated. To Johnson, "A simile, to be perfect, must both illustrate and ennoble the subject."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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simile in Culture
simile [(sim-uh-lee)]

A common figure of speech that explicitly compares two things usually considered different. Most similes are introduced by like or as: “The realization hit me like a bucket of cold water.” (Compare metaphor.)

Note: Some similes, such as “sleeping like a log,” have become clichés.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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