Simile Meaning, Examples, Characteristics, Types, Simile Poems, Function

Simile Meaning, Examples, Characteristics, Types, Simile Poems, Function


What is Simile?


Simile Meaning

The word simile is from Latin origin (‘similis’) meaning ‘likeness’. 

Simile Definition

A Simile is a figure of speech in which an explicit comparison is made between two unallied or different things or ideas.

Simile Characteristics

  • A comparison is made.
  • The comparison is made between two unlike or dissimilar objects.
  • The point of comparison is expressed or stated clearly.
  • There must have the use of word of comparison, ‘like’, ‘as’.

Simile Examples

Use of ‘As’


as blind as a bat
completely blind
as cold as ice
very cold
as flat as a pancake
completely flat
as gentle as a lamb
very gentle
as light as a feather
very light
as old as the hills
very old
as sharp as a knife
very sharp
as strong as a bull
very strong
as white as snow
pure white
as wise as an owl
very wise


as slow as a snail
as cool as cucumber
Use of ‘Like’


like a rose
like a volcano
like garbage
like an animal
like spaghetti
like dewdrops
sweet and pure
like gold dust
like a tip
very untidy (tip = garbage dump

Examples in Literature

1) Life is as tedious as a twice-told-tale.  – Shakespeare


This is an example of figure based on similarity more specifically simile in which an open and explicit comparison is made between two unallied elements- ‘life’ and ‘tale’. The point of comparison is clear- ‘tediousness’. This is clearly shown by ‘as’.

2) “Glory is like a circle in water,
    Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
    Till by broad spreading , it disperses to nought.”                    – (Shakespeare)
Also Read:
3) “Drive my dead thoughts over the universe like withered leaves to quicken a new birth.”   – Shelley
4) “O my love’s like a red, red rose.” (Burns)
5) “The soul is like a star that dwelt apart.” (Wordsworth)

Popular songs, too, make use of simile

  • A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle – U2
  • Cheaper than a hot dog with no mustard – Beastie Boys
  • I must do what’s right, as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti – Toto
  • It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog – The Beatles
  • Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
  • Like a bat outta [out of] hell – Meat Loaf
  • My heart is like an open highway – Jon Bon Jovi
  • These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall – Led Zeppelin
  • Thick as a Brick – Jethro Tull
  • You are as subtle as a brick to the small of my back – Taking Back Sunday

Simile Types

Generally speaking there are four types of smile :

  1. Regular Simile
  2. Common Simile,
  3. Epic Simile
  4. Sustained Simile

Regular similes are those in which the number of compared objects does not exceed two. There is only one set of comparisons (love-leaves or knowledge-star) in such instances as follow:

Simile in Poetry

a. She did me take love easy, as the
leaves grow on the tree.  (Yeats)

b.    And this gray spirit yearning in desire

To follow knowledge, like sinking star,

Beyond the utmost bound of human thought (Tennyson)


Common Similes are those which we unconsciously use in our everyday speech, and by virtue of their frequent use they have lost their freshness and become hackneyed,

Examples: as dry as bone, as proud as peacock, as poor as Church mouse

Epic Similes are those in which compared objects are described at length, and they frequently go beyond the point of comparison and present us a complete poetic picture of some scene or incident suggested by the comparison. What is important about such simile is that the pictures are so greatly expanded that the main point of comparison is often lost or thrown to the background, and many irrelevant details are introduced. Since such similes are common in Homer, they are also known as Homeric Similes. Here follow some examples

Simile Poems

(i) The broad circumference of [Satan’s shield]

Hung on his shoulder like the moon, whose orb

Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views

At evening, from the top of Fesols,

Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,

Rivers, or mountains, in hor spotty globe. (Milton)

(ii) Like one that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread,

And having once turned sound, walls on,

And turns no more his head;

Because he knows a frightful fiend

Doth close beside him tread. (Coleridge)

Sustained Similies are those in which two or more similies follow in
succession to illustrate same idea.

Simile Poems Examples

(a)  My heart is like a singing bird

Whoso nest is in a watered shoot ;

My heart is like an apple tree

Whose boughs are bent with thickest fruit;

My heart s like a rainbow shell

That paddles in halcyon sea.
(C. G. Rossetti)

(b) O my love’s like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June :

O my love’s like the melody

That’s sweetly play’d in tune. (Burns)

Function of Simile

The purpose of a simile is two-fold. It instructs while it appeals to our understanding. It pleases while it addresses to our heart. Dr. Johnson observes: “A simile, to be perfect, must both illustrate and ennoble the subject; must show it to the understanding in a clearer view and display it to the fancy with greater dignity, but either of these qualities may be sufficient to recommend it.”

Simile and Metaphor

Both the simile and the metaphor institute a comparison or show a similarity between two things or subjects, different in kind. But the comparison is not made in the same way in them. In the former, the likeness is clearly shown by the employment of the words like, as, like, etc. But in the metaphor, the resemblance between the things or subjects is kept implied.

A simile, thus, differs from a metaphor only in form, and not in content. What is distinctly expressed in the simile, is only implied in the metaphor.


A metaphor is, in fact, a compressed simile, and, in the same way, a simile is an expanded metaphor. The best test of a metaphor is found in its expansion into a faultless simile and vice versa.

Thus, the example- “The eldest son is the star of the family — can be expanded thus–‘Just as a star is bright, so the eldest son is the bright member of the family. This is the form of a simile. Similarly, the metaphor in the sentence, “He is the pillar of the state,” can be expanded into a simile thus : “Just as a pillar supports a building, so he supports the state.” Again, the simile in the expression-“Red as a rose is she”–can be compressed into the metaphor –“She is a red rose.”

Simile Worksheet

1. He doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus. (Shakespeare)
2. The Champak odours fall
Like sweet thoughts in a dream. (Shelley)
3. Like a child form the womb, like a ghost from the tomb
I arise and unbuilt it again. (Shelley)
4. And we drop like the fruits of the trees.


4 thoughts on “Simile Meaning, Examples, Characteristics, Types, Simile Poems, Function”

  1. I studied many of your examples of literary terms articles. they are quite practical.
    thank you very very much, Mr. Sarkar.


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