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Simile Definition: the comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”

Similes - Compare Like a Boss

Similes are a kind of figurative language that authors use to enhance imagery and key ideas in a work. They often enhance the senses of a reader to better experience the deeper meaning of the two unlike things being compared. Similes can also simplify a complicated idea. Similes are created by using the words “like” or “as” to compare two things or ideas. Similes differ from metaphors in that their comparisons are short and are not meant to be drawn-out in a symbolic way; instead, similes are meant to draw a parallel between two dissimilar ideas, which can create a deeper understanding of the subject for the reader. For example, William Wordsworth compares himself to a wandering, lonely cloud in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” in order to highlight the freedom and isolation of escaping into the beauty of nature through his mind’s eye. As a cloud in his imagination, he can see all of the stars, the waves on the oceans, and the daffodils all at once. In this poem, Wordsworth becomes a cloud to highlight the awe and the distance of the world around him.

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Notable Examples of Simile in Literature

“The late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean.”

“I wandered lonely as a cloud / that floats o’er vales and hills”

William Wordsworth “Daffodils”

“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun

William Shakespeare “Sonnet 130”

Be sure to check out our article, "Figurative Language"!

Learn more about various devices in literature in our Picture Encyclopedia of Literary Elements!
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