When making a comparison, authors will often use similes and metaphors. A simile is a figurative expression similar to a metaphor, though it requires the use of a distancing word like ‘like’ or ‘as’. Some examples are “The sun was like an orange,” “eager as a beaver,” and “nimble as a mountain goat.” Because a simile includes ‘like’ or ‘as’, it creates a little space between the description and the thing being described. If an author says that a house was “like a shoebox,” the tone is slightly different than if the author said that the house was a shoebox. In a simile, the author indicates an awareness that the description is not the same thing as the thing being described. In a metaphor, there is no such distinction, even though one may safely assume that the author is aware of it. This is a subtle difference, but authors will alternately use metaphors and similes depending on their intended tone.
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Last updated: 12/18/2017
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