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Home » » Simile Definition, Meaning & Classification

It is Figure in which a likeness  between two different things is stated in an explicit way. 

''The simile', says Bain,'consists in the formal or avowed comparison of one thing to another. 'It', explains Martin, ' Consists of placing two different things side by side and comparing them with regard to some features common to both'.


Simile is ' the formal and explicit statement of likeness or similar relationship observed in different objects and actions'. It will be easier for us to understand the significance of the above with the help of an example.  In ' I wandered lonely as a cloud' we observe three things :  (a) A comparison between  two different objects ( I and cloud)  is made; (b) the comparison is made explicit with the help of a word of comparison - 'as' and (c) there is a point of comparison - a common feature enabling two dissimilar things to be compared,  and the point of comparison here is a ' lonely' state which is common both to ( i.e.,Wordsworth) and the ' cloud '.

It is to be remembered that while points  (a) and (b) are indispensable for a simile,  point (c) is not.  For example had Wordsworth simply written ' I wandered as a cloud ', it claim as a simile could not have been contested.  It should, again,  be noted that the comparison should not be trite but striking,  yet free from obscurity. 

The chief features of a  simile are given below:

1. One thing is likened to another. 

2. The things are different in nature 

3. The likeness between them is clearly expressed with a word of comparison,  such as like,  so, such, as, etc.

Classification :

Generally speaking there are four types of simile:

1. Regular Simile

2. Common Simile

3. Epic Simile

4. Sustainable Simile

Regular Similes are those in which the number of compared objects does not exceed two.  There is only one set of comparison ( love - leaves or knowledge -start) in such instances as follow :

(a) She bid me take love easy,  as the leaves grow on the tree . ( Yeats)

Common Similes are those which we unconsciously use in our everyday speech,  and by virtue of their frequent use they have lost their freshness and become hackneyed. Here follow some examples:

as dry as bone

as light as a feather

as clear as crystal 

Epic Similes are those in which compared objects are described at length,  and they frequently go beyond the point of comparison and present us a complete poetic picture of some scene or incident suggested by the comparison.  What is important about such simile is that the picture are so greatly expanded that the main point of comparison is often lost or thrown to the background,  and many irrelevant details are introduced,  Since such similes are common in Homer,  they are also known as Homeric Similes,  Here follow examples :

Like one that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread

And having once turned round, walks on,

And turns no more his head:

Because he knows a frightful fiend

Doth close beside him tread. (Coleridge) 

Sustained Similes are those in which two or more similes follow in succession to illustrate the same idea.  Two examples are given below:

O my love's like a red, red rose

That's newly sprung in June:

O mt love's like the melody

That's sweetly play'd in time (Burns)


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