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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 similes
  • Invite students to come up with their own metaphors or similes to describe each animal shown.
  • The engravings are fac similes of the sizes and styles.
  • In this story the author uses similes to compare two things.
  • Sayyid wrap stories and self-promotion in similes and allusions so fast and densely packed they could use an instant replay.
  • Then challenge students to look at the photos in the article and think of other similes.
  • Parts of the dialogue are lacking in spontaneity, chiefly owing to the writer's penchant for similes.
  • But the chief end of it is, to supply the fancy with variety of similes for all subjects.
  • In his work the flattest clichés are transformed into glowing images, and worn-out puns and similes catch fire.
  • similes are used often in literature, appearing in every genre from poetry to prose and from epics to essays.
  • similes and metaphors are comparisons that writers make in order to describe something.
British Dictionary definitions for similes


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 similes



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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similes 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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