How Similes Work

"As lovely as a desert flower.". Andy Ryan/Stone/Getty Images

A simile is a direct comparison of two different and often unrelated objects. Similes are useful for making creative writing come to life. Common similes include run like the wind, busy as a bee, or as happy as a clam.

Before looking at any examples, you should try a little brainstorming exercise. First, jot down a list of characteristics of the subject you're writing about. For example, is it noisy, dense, or annoying? Once you have a shortlist completed, look over those characteristics and try to imagine an unrelated object that shares those characteristics.

This list of similes will help you come up with your own examples.

Similes That Include the Word "Like"

Many similes are easy to identify because they include the word "like."

  • The cat slipped through the crack like liquid.
  • The delicious smell meandered through the house like a stream.
  • That bed was like a pile of rocks.
  • My heart is racing like a frightened rabbit.
  • The fire alarm was like a screaming baby.
  • Watching that movie was like watching paint dry.
  • The winter air was like a cold razor.
  • The hotel was like a castle.
  • My brain was like a sun-baked brick during the exam.
  • I shook like a rattlesnake's tail.
  • Being grounded is like living in an empty desert.
  • The alarm was like a doorbell in my head.
  • My feet were like frozen turkeys.
  • His breath was like a fog from a haunted bog.

As-As Similes

Some similes use the word "as" to compare two objects. 

  • That kid can run as fast as a cheetah.
  • He's as cute as a frog's dimple.
  • This sauce is as hot as the sun.
  • My tongue is as dry as burnt toast.
  • Your face is as red as hot coals.
  • His feet were as big as a tree.
  • The air was as cold as the inside of a freezer.
  • These bed sheets are as scratchy as sandpaper.
  • The sky is as dark as ink.
  • I was as cold as a snowman.
  • I'm as hungry as a bear in springtime.
  • That dog is as messy as a tornado.
  • My sister is as shy as a newborn fawn.
  • His words were as soft as snowflakes on a leaf.

Similes can add a creative flourish to your paper, but they can be tricky to get right. And remember: similes are great for creative essays, but not really appropriate for academic papers.

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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "How Similes Work." ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2021, Fleming, Grace. (2021, September 3). How Similes Work. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "How Similes Work." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 8, 2022).