[ uh-nal-uh-jee ]
/ əˈnæl ə dʒi /
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See synonyms for: analogy / analogies on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural a·nal·o·gies.
a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump.
similarity or comparability: I see no analogy between your problem and mine.
Biology. an analogous relationship.
  1. the process by which words or phrases are created or re-formed according to existing patterns in the language, as when shoon was re-formed as shoes, when -ize is added to nouns like winter to form verbs, or when a child says foots for feet.
  2. a form resulting from such a process.
Logic. a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects.
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Origin of analogy

1530–40; <Latin analogia<Greek. See analogous, -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is an analogy?

An analogy is a comparison made to show how two different things are similar, especially in limited ways.

An analogy is a technique frequently used in literature to explain something by comparing it to something else (a literary device). There are several types of analogies you can make.

A simile directly compares two seemingly unrelated things and then explains what the two items have in common to make a point. Similes often use like or as to make the comparison, as in Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. The analogy says that life, like an unlabeled box of chocolates, is mysterious and full of both pleasant and unpleasant surprises.

A metaphor indirectly compares two things, as in He was a wolf among sheep in the boardroom, taking command instantly. Instead of the analogy saying the corporate executive was like a ferocious predator, it says he is a ferocious predator. The analogy makes the point that the man was aggressive and dominated the other people in the room.

Analogies are complex and often rely on a reader or listener using logic to figure out what connection the user of the analogy is making.

In other areas of study, such as math and science, analogies are used to infer, or to figure out through reason and logic, unknown information. For example, if you know how A is similar to B and how B is similar to C, using reason you can determine how A is similar to C.

Why are analogies important?

The first records of analogy come from around 1530. It ultimately comes from the Greek word análogos, meaning “proportionate.” An analogy is comparing two proportional, or relative, things.

Analogies are a common literary device used to enrich writing. The great William Shakespeare used many analogies in his work, such as this one from Romeo and Juliet:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called.

Juliet is using an analogy that compares Romeo to a rose to explain that she would love Romeo no matter what his last name was.

Did you know ... ?

Many standardized tests use simple analogies to see how well a person can use logic and reasoning to draw comparisons. These are often written A:B::X:Y, as in kitten:cat::puppy:___. To correctly answer the question, you must figure out the relationship between a kitten and a cat (a kitten is a baby cat) and a kitten and a puppy (a kitten and puppy are both baby animals) to determine what you should put in the blank (dog).

What are real-life examples of analogies?

This clip shows the movie character Shrek attempting to explain the complexity of ogres using an analogy:

Many of our favorite works of entertainment use analogies, and we sometimes use them ourselves.

What other words are related to analogy?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

An analogy contrasts two similar things by pointing out their differences.

How to use analogy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for analogy

/ (əˈnælədʒɪ) /

noun plural -gies
agreement or similarity, esp in a certain limited number of features or details
a comparison made to show such a similarityto draw an analogy between an atom and the solar system
biology the relationship between analogous organs or parts
logic maths a form of reasoning in which a similarity between two or more things is inferred from a known similarity between them in other respects
linguistics imitation of existing models or regular patterns in the formation of words, inflections, etca child may use ``sheeps'' as the plural of ``sheep'' by analogy with ``dog'', ``dogs'', ``cat'', ``cats'', etc

Derived forms of analogy

analogical (ˌænəˈlɒdʒɪkəl) or analogic, adjectiveanalogically, adverbanalogist, noun

Word Origin for analogy

C16: from Greek analogia ratio, correspondence, from analogos analogous
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

Cultural definitions for analogy

[ (uh-nal-uh-jee) ]

A comparison of two different things that are alike in some way (see metaphor and simile). An analogy attributed to Samuel Johnson is: “Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.