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What is a Simile? - Compass Classroom Blog

What is a Simile?


What is a Simile?

When a poet compares two dissimilar things using the words likeas, or than, we call this trope a simile. --Grammar of Poetry, Lesson 3

There are a number of terms in this definition. Simile means similar, but one of the requirements for the two items is they have to be dissimilar. Why is that? They can’t be the exact same item or type of item, though they do have something in common.

An incorrect example of a simile: “Blue is like cerulean.” Why is this incorrect? These are two different words for blue. They are too similar to actually qualify as a simile, because there needs to be some level of dissimilarity.

What is a trope? Simply a figure of speech. A way of speaking that is not literal. It communicates a deeper truth at times because it paints a picture for you.

Is this example a simile? “That hog eats like an animal.” Are these two nouns dissimilar? No. they are not. A hog is an animal.

Here is a counter example: “That man eats like a hog.” This is a more suitable example of a true simile as these nouns are dissimilar but there is a common element, their love of food.

Here is a list of sentences you can use to practice discerning similes with your child. Read them out loud and have them write down the numbers that ARE similes.

1: “Today I will be happier than a bird with a French fry.” (Is this a simile? Yes! Note the dissimilarities and the word than)

2: “When Julie jumped on the trampoline, she was a pogostick on steroids.” (Is this a simile? No. The words like, as, or than are not present.)

3: “Her smile was as bright as the sun.”  (Is this a simile? Yes! All the necessary qualifications are present. If your high schooler is a young man, have him file this one away for future reference.)

4:  “My dog smells like a dirty sock.” (Is this a simile? Yes. Though hopefully not true for you!)

5: “This lemon is like a fruit.” (Is this a simile? No. The two nouns are not dissimilar.)

6:  “You’ve aged like a fine wine.” (Is this a simile? Yes. And another good one for your children to file away!)

For more about poetry, download 2 free lessons from Grammar of Poetry.