Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Metaphor and Simile

dictionary1Metaphor vs Simile

Metaphor and simile are often confused due to their similarities. But in fact, the two imply different aspects of language. Just to start with, we can say that a simile is a metaphor, but all metaphors are not similes.

Metaphor is often used as a powerful persuasion tool and is a figure of speech that makes use of something to mean something else. Hence, there is a comparison developed between the two. For example, the sentence ‘“ ‘He’s become a shell of a man’. This does not indicate that the man has actually become a shell. Instead it is comparing the man to the shell which has lost its internal substance. A metaphor is actually substitution.

A simile, on the other hand, compares two things to create a meaning. The introduction of the word ‘like’ will make it easier. So here the sentence will become ‘“ ‘He’s like a shell of a man’. A simile indicates being similar. It is the comparison between to non-related things.

We can say that if simile is an approximation, then metaphor is an equation itself. So the major difference is that a simile being an approximation cannot be extended, substituted, or reversed. But metaphor being an equation can be reversed, extended, and substituted by other metaphors.

When you use a simile it might need further explanation. For example, you may say that clouds are like cotton candies. Here you can extend further and say whether it is the texture or color of clouds that you are comparing to cotton candies. A metaphor when used requires no further explanation. One can understand it quickly. If you say that a car is a cell, it is a metaphor. The aspects of the car protecting its passengers, letting them to move in and out, and other features of a car are being compared to a cell. Here you are more certain of what the comparison means. As a matter of fact, we can say that if ‘like’ is being used, it is more of a simile than a metaphor. This may not be true always, but holds good to an extent. If the word ‘like’ is used in the sentence to show similarity then it is often a simile. But if it is used to show as two things being the same, then it is a metaphor.

Simile is used more in the poetic sense while metaphor will have that air of truth around it. Why people often mistaken between a metaphor and simile is because both these expressions depend on the perception of the individual who reads it. An author might convey one thing, while the reader might perceive it differently.


1.Simile is a metaphor. But all metaphors are not similes.
2.A metaphor is an equation while simile is an approximation.
3.A simile compares two things to create a meaning, while a metaphor is a figure of speech that makes use of something to mean something else.

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