Similes and Metaphors

“The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.
This alone cannot be imparted by another;
it is the mark of genius,
for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblance.”

– Aristotle

– Mo –

To confuse both is a fairly common occurrence.  The English Club makes a point of discussing this, and provides an easy example for you to remember.

“With simile A is like B. With metaphor A is B.”

To take a well-known simile, my fellow country-people recognise an exceptionally busy person as ‘flat out like a lizard drinking’.  How could being super busy be linked to a reptile refreshing itself? The confusing lack of a connection other than both being a variation of ‘flat’ likely adds to its appeal.

The famous Greek philosopher and polymath has a good point, as being able to make a concise and accurate metaphor reveals an eye for detail.  There are many goods ones in the world of literature.  My thanks to MacMillan Dictionary Blog and Wikihow for providing the examples below (and they also provide Metaphor v Simile post).

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.” – William Shakespeare

“A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.” – Groucho Marx (Especially with insurance premiums skyrocketing every year!)

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The sky above the port was the color of television, turned to a dead channel.” – Neuromancer, William Gibson

And we finish with a Russian fellow who seemingly had thing for firearms…

“Medicine is my lawful wife
and literature my mistress;
when I tire of one, I spend
the night with the other.”

– Anton Chekhov

– Mo –

A brief aside.  Wikipedia informs me that Mister Chekhov was a master of the short story, writing 201 of them up until his death in 1904.  In an awesome stroke of luck, the generous folk at Eldritch Press provide a one stop shop for all of them, and provide some starting points for those new to the author.  Thank you Eldritch Press!

– Mo –

What are the memorable similes and metaphors unique to your country?

Do you have a personal favourite?


2 responses

  1. Thanks, DJ, for the reference to Eldritch Press. Just what I was looking for in terms of reading other short story writers.

    1. No worries at all, Doc. It’s the least I can do =)

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