When you think of figurative language, what comes to mind? Middle school English class, perhaps? That’s OK; us, too. The thing is, when your kids need homework help, where do you turn? To Scary Mommy, of course. Today we’re bringing you a refresher course in figurative language — one part, anyway. We’re talking about similes. We’re going to go over the definition of a simile, break down the difference between similes and metaphors, give you a few handy teaching tips, and share several simile examples to help make the concept stick.
Want more bite-sized language lessons? Check out some of our other blog posts covering topics like hyperbole and onomatopoeia examples! Now, let’s get started. Before you know it, teaching your kids about similes will be as easy as pie (do you see what we did there?).
Definition of a Simile
Let’s start with how to say the word “simile.” In case you’ve forgotten, or it’s a word that’s always perplexed you, here’s a quick video tutorial sharing the correct pronunciation.
Now that you know how to say it correctly, what exactly is a simile? According to Merriam-Webster, a simile is “a figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as (as in cheeks like roses).”
It’s essentially a descriptive statement used to compare two unrelated things that share some of the same characteristics. One good way to remember this is by thinking of the word “similar” when coming up with similes. The two words sound a lot alike — or similar, as it were.
Similes vs. Metaphors
Similes and metaphors are so much alike that it can be confusing to tell the difference. There is one major difference, though. Similes use the words “like” or “as” to compare two things; metaphors do not. Metaphors directly state a comparison, i.e., one thing is another.
Let’s look at an example to help you tell the two apart. “Life is like a box of chocolates” is a simile. “Love is a battlefield” is a metaphor. Easy peasy.
Iconic movie lines and song lyrics that stand the test of time — what do these things have in common? Skilled writers, to start. However, there’s another similarity. Many of these are written as similes or metaphors. One way to help kids grasp the concept is to find quotes from their favorite entertainers and show them how similes and metaphors are applied when writing movie scripts and song lyrics. Be sure to point out similes and metaphors in books when you’re reading together too!
Also, it’s helpful to intentionally throw similes and metaphors into everyday conversations. Then, point it out when you do (or when you see your child use a simile or metaphor without realizing it). Show kids how you can use these figures of speech to “paint a picture” when they write or speak.
Seeing examples of similes written in black and white on the page can really help cement the concept in your mind. With that said, here are some simile examples below.
- “My sister’s friend Rita is as dull as dishwater and can’t carry a conversation in a bucket.”
- “Addy said to tell Ricky she’s newly single and free as a bird!”
- “Our neighbor is working like a dog in this heat to get her weeds pulled and spring garden planted.”
- “Ever since Bobby turned 12 and hit puberty, he eats like a horse. Our grocery bill is skyrocketing.”
- “Mona slept like a log after spending all day at the pool with friends.”
- “Jessica’s natural blonde hair was as white as snow before adding in fun and flirty streaks of pink and purple.”
- “Grandma was as tough as old boots after raising a family during The Great Depression.”
- “Sally is as sweet as pie until you mess with one of her babies — then, mama bear makes her presence known.”
- “One day, we’ll tell the grandkids the story of how we met, and they’ll say our love shines like the stars in the clear night sky.”
- “Katie’s heart flutters like a hummingbird the second her eyes meet Jackson’s across the crowded room.”
- “After using that new face serum, Ashley’s skin is smooth and supple… it’s as soft as a baby’s bottom.”
- “Christopher is tucked in as snug as a bug in a rug in his new big boy car bed tonight.”
- “Allie is slow as molasses getting ready for school in the mornings after a poor night’s sleep.”
Examples of Simile in Literature
- “Time has not stood still. It has washed over me, washed me away as if I’m nothing more than a woman of sand, left by a careless child too near the water.” — The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
- “She tried to get rid of the kitten, which had scrambled up her back and stuck like a burr just out of reach.” — Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
- “She entered with ungainly struggle like some huge awkward chicken, torn, squawking, out of its coop.” — The Adventure of the Three Gables, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- “He sat as still as a mouse, in the futile hope that whoever it was might go away after a single attempt. But no, the knocking was repeated. The worst thing of all would be to delay. His heart was thumping like a drum, but his face, from long habit, was probably expressionless.” — 1984, by George Orwell
- “‘Oh, a beautiful lake,’ said Mrs. Cheever. ‘Small but clear, and blue as — blue as — laundry bluing! Boats on it! Boat like butterflies skimming and dipping. We had one; Papa did.’” — Gone Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright
- “This is the large iceberg; while the small and distant islands, floating on the smooth sea, in the light of a clear day, look like little floating fairy isles of sapphire.” — Two Years Before The Mast, by Richard Henry Dana Jr.
- “Moments before sleep are when she feels most alive, leaping across fragments of the day, bringing each moment into the bed with her like a child with schoolbooks and pencils.” — The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
- “The Radley Place fascinated Dill. In spite of our warnings and explanations it drew him as the moon draws water, but drew him no nearer than the light-pole on the corner, a safe distance from the Radley gate.” — To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- “Why he should have captivated Scarlett when his mind was a stranger to hers, she did not know. The very mystery of him excited her curiosity like a door that had neither lock nor key.” — Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
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