[ sim-uh-lee ]
See synonyms for: similesimiles on

  1. a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “she is like a rose.”: Compare metaphor.

  2. an instance of such a figure of speech or a use of words exemplifying it.

Origin of simile

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin: “image, likeness, comparison,” noun use of neuter of similis similar

Words that may be confused with simile Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use simile in a sentence

  • There are the many-claused thickets of adverbs and unlikely similes of writing done on Adderall.

  • He seems to give gratifying thought to every question and intersperses his thoughts with quick similes.

    London's Swinging ’60s Revisited | Molly Guinness | September 22, 2009 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • The similes and metaphors, however bold and original, are always drawn from the life of the speakers.

    Frdric Mistral | Charles Alfred Downer
  • The passages in Homer upon which opinions diverge most are isolated ones, occurring in similes and fragmentary descriptions.

    Homer and His Age | Andrew Lang
  • "Both names on the assignment, then, are exact fac-similes of the names on the autograph letters," said Mr. Balfour.

    Sevenoaks | J. G. Holland

British Dictionary definitions for simile


/ (ˈsɪmɪlɪ) /

  1. 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

Origin of simile

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

Cultural definitions for 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.)

Notes for simile

Some similes, such as “sleeping like a log,” have become clichés.

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.