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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for simile
Historical Examples
  • The simile of an Indian fight returned to Dick with increased force.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • There is no other simile that will express his state of mind.

  • I feel the rage of simile upon me; I can't talk to you in any other way.

    The Contrast Royall Tyler
  • He laughed at this simile, and continued: 'I shall be all new again.

  • Blanche, who was extremely dainty as to what she touched, quite appreciated this simile.

    Clare Avery Emily Sarah Holt
  • Sallie does not mind an extra word or two to strengthen a simile.

  • In rhetoric, a direct and formal comparison is called a simile.

    The Verbalist Thomas Embly Osmun, (AKA Alfred Ayres)
  • Clare could not help smiling at the simile, and bent down her head.

    Adam Johnstone's Son

    F. Marion Crawford
  • "Your simile is not a good one, Mr. Pett," retorted Brereton.

    The Borough Treasurer Joseph Smith Fletcher
  • If he had alluded to him as an incendiary bomb, there would have been more sense in his simile.

    Michael E. F. Benson
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 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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