Simile vs. Metaphor - Know the Difference

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Simile vs. Metaphor

Simile and metaphor are both distinct figures of speech that are often used in literature for ornamental purposes. Writers choose to use these figurative devices to amplify the effect on language by creating imagery in the mind of the readers.

Simile

This rhetorical device is used to draw a comparison between two far-fetched entities by using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ in the statement. Similes are used in everyday language as well as literature. Some examples of simile are given below -

  • You shine bright like the stars above.
  • I want teeth as white as pearls.
  • She roared like a lioness.
  • I wish I could swim like a fish.

Metaphor

Metaphors compare two things directly without the use of any connecting or helping words. Metaphors are often difficult to fathom for their sudden usage in literary language but authors and poets have used them with utmost expertise throughout history. Check out a few examples of metaphors -

  • She is my moon on the darkest of nights.
  • Flynn has a heart of ice.
  • I’m always buried under a sea of paperwork.
  • Time is money.

The Difference: Simile vs. Metaphor

In terms of the cause of use, simile and metaphor barely have any difference since they are used for the very same effect in language and literature. The sole difference comes in their usage and the assisting words used alongside.

  • You came in like a breath of fresh air. (Simile)

The use of the word “like” makes “breath of fresh air” a simile and not a metaphor.

  • You are a breath of fresh air. (Metaphor)

The lack of assisting words (like or as) used in the sentence to compare “You” and “breath of fresh air” and makes it a metaphor.

Essentially, the usage of ‘like’ or ‘as’ makes all the difference when it comes to detecting the comparison done is with the help of a simile or metaphor.

Compassion Table

The comparison table below would come in handy for clearing out any confusion left by putting them side by side. Let’s have a look at what are the similarities and dissimilarities between similes and metaphors. 

Factors

Simile

Metaphore

Cause

Far-fetched comparison

Far-fetched comparison

Used in

Everyday language and literature

Majorly in literature

Assisting word

“Like” or “As”

N/A

Interpretation

Less room for varied interpretation

Open to readers’ interpretation

Simile or Metaphor?

It is a huge decision to make when choosing between similes and metaphors. A writer has to choose between the two when there is a scope for comparison in their work. It always comes down to the kind of impact they want to have on their readers.

Metaphors often have deeper meanings and give power to the readers since they can be interpreted in various ways and so, have a grander impact on the readers’ minds. Writers, on the other hand, need to be very careful as to what suits the mood of the piece. In the case of bigger literary pieces, writers can work their magic and strike a good balance of similes and metaphors so that readers can enjoy the magical experience without being put off by their forced overuse.

 

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