Similes are very simple.

Simile just means that one thing is similar to another.

It takes the formula:

[first thing] is like [second thing]

If the phrase has 'like' in it, then it's a simile.


The sun is like a golden yolk

My friend has a temper like thunder

My armpit hair is like an impenetrable jungle

Her smile is like a thousand summers


A simile can also use the word 'as' to draw comparison. This is the same as saying 'like':

The whisky was sharp as poison

Her hair was black as night

The stars were as bright as a blizzard

He was as funny as the plague


The very best similes tend to link two things that you wouldn't usually directly associate (the sun and an egg, a smile and summer) and finds a visual or emotional connection that makes sense on some level. For instance, when someone is shouting at you, it can shake you like an earthquake.

Examples that don't work so well:

Her laugh is like an ant running up a tree

My car drives like an orange

His eyes are as big as sponges

The moon glows like a frying pan


They're just too obscure to see a connection there. Maybe the moon glows like fire, but a frying pan doesn't really glow. An orange doesn't even move, so how can a car drive like one?

You also need to be careful not to directly relate something to what it actually is, such as:

The sun was like a ball of light in the sky

The milk was sour like something that had gone off

His poem was like words in verse
The mist was like a low-hanging cloud


This isn't really simile, it's just explaining what something really is.

The real pleasure in a simile is when it's creative but still makes sense.

Some of my favourites include:

  • The obsidian from the water pot was lying under the kettle like the lost eye of a bat. (Tail of the Blue Bird, Nii Parkes)

  • Dawn filled up the sky like milk poured into a glass bowl. (The Mountain Can Wait, Sarah Leipciger)

  • Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies. (Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell)

  • His guilt was thick in the air as winter mists. (Circe, Madeline Miller)

  • Her laugh was like a song that made you want to sing it. (Uprooted, Naomi Novik)

  • I kick him like thunder and he jump like lightning. (A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James)

  • The rising sunlight spread like glittering marmalade across the toast of God. (Will Save the Galaxy for Food, Yahtzee Croshaw)

  • Her eyebrows shot up like the birth rate nine months after a prolonged power outage. (Will Destroy the Galaxy for Cash, Yahtzee Croshaw)

  • Of the Song of the Shadow, there remain only a few scraps of legend, carried like driftwood from isle to isle over the long years. (A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin)



Free association can be a good starting point with simile. When you look at a word, what else comes to mind?


Give it a go and see what you come up with:


The sun is like _____________________________________________________


The clouds are like__________________________________________________


The man was as angry as a___________________________________________


The water tasted sweet as____________________________________________


The woman smiled like_______________________________________________

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