A simile is a rhythmic figure of speech which directly compares two objects. Most commonly, a simile compares objects with comparison words like “like”, “to”, “of”, and “also”, while other figurative figures create an implied comparison without use of comparison words. For example, the American president is compared to a dog in the book, The Great Panic. A simile compares a person to a pig in the song, Pigs in the Kitchen. A simile compares a body part like a hand with the letter “H”.
A simile compares two different things, usually more than two things, in the most obvious way possible. A simile compares words like “this”, “that”, “that too”, and “I” in a single word. Similes, as a rule, refer to comparisons that are made between one thing and another. They can also be used to compare one person to another or one nation to another. A few similes can even be used to compare two locations or more.
What is a simile used for? A lot of things! One of the most popular usages of the word “simile” is in a mathematical equation. For example, if we want to find the circumference of the earth, we might say, “The circumference of the earth is equal to the sum of the inner sides of its spherical equator.” We then add the outer sides of the equator to the inner sides to get the Earth’s circumference.
Metaphors can be very useful when students are learning how to compare and contrast. One common usage of the word “parable” comes from a play called Hamlet. In this play, King Lear compares his soul to the soul of a parakeet. The play is set during the span of King Lear’s life. He compares it figuratively to a parakeet because he compares his thoughts (and thus his soul) to that of the bird.
Students who use similes to compare something to a thing, item, or concept can also be using figurative language. Students who say, “Your necklace is as beautiful as the love it represents,” use figurative language. However, the love of what is a necklace by itself may not be a true simile. Rather, it is probably “the love the necklace causes in me.” It could also just as easily be “the necklace symbolizes the love I feel for you.” The meaning of what is a simile can change depending on whom it is spoken to.
Students may also use what is a simile to compare two different concepts. Say, for example, they say that the sky is blue. They may claim that the sky is like a lake. However, in order to make their comparison truly accurate, they should realize that it is possible for the sky to look like a pond to the touch and is blue-colored somehow even if it is not actually blue. By doing this, they can make their comparison more accurate.
Students may also use similes to create a metaphor. An easy way to do this is to take a familiar concept and use a simile to represent it. An example of this can be, ‘A horse is like a ship because it travels.’ An easier way to do this is to represent the horse traveling from one point to another by using a simile. This can be done by comparing the horse’s movement with that of an airplane or train.
The use of similes in art is very important. It provides a way for artists to make their arguments or metaphors clear and to convey their thoughts in a very effective way. So, when you hear the words what is a simile, be sure to let your mind wander to other ways to convey your ideas.