Similes are one of the most popular literary devices, alongside their cousins metaphors and analogies. But how can you identify a simile? Learn the details here, plus find lots of engaging simile examples and fun teaching ideas.
What is a simile?
Simply put, a simile (say “SIM-uh-lee”) is a comparison between two things, usually using the words “like” or “as.” These comparisons are used to describe something, usually with colorful and expressive language. Similes help make a point or paint a clearer picture of the item being described.
- Example: The bad news struck them like a bolt of lightning.
Similes are a type of figurative language, in which words or phrases are meaningful but not strictly true. In the above example, the reader isn’t meant to believe that the people were actually struck by lightning. Instead, the simile helps the reader feel how shocking the news was to the recipients.
Need some help remembering the definition? Note that “simile” sounds like “similar.” When you make a comparison between two similar things, using “like” or “as,” that’s a simile.
Simile vs. Metaphor
It’s easy to get similes and metaphors confused, since both are types of comparisons. However, in a metaphor, you won’t find the words “like” or “as.” A metaphor states directly that one thing is another thing.
- Simile: Her smile is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.
- Metaphor: Her smile is the sunshine we need on such a cloudy day.
Common Simile Examples
These similes are well-known figures of speech, found frequently in all sorts of writing.
- Bright like the sun
- Cold as ice
- Cool as a cucumber
- Dead as a doornail
- Deaf as a post
- Easy as pie
- Fresh as a daisy
- Helpless as a baby
- Kind as an angel
- Light as a feather
- Like two peas in a pod
- Run like the wind
- Sleep like a baby
- Slow as molasses in winter
- Shine like a star
- Sharp like a knife
- Straight as an arrow
- Sweet as sugar
- Tall as a mountain
- White as a ghost
Animal Simile Examples
Similes often use animals, making comparisons to their behaviors and characteristics. Here’s a selection of popular animal similes.
- Big as an elephant
- Blind as a bat
- Brave as a lion
- Busy as a bee
- Fight like cats and dogs
- Float like a butterfly
- Free as a bird
- Gentle as a lamb
- Hop like a bunny
- Hungry as a bear
- Jump like a kangaroo
- Mad as a hornet
- Proud as a peacock
- Soar like an eagle
- Slippery as an eel
- Slow as a snail
- Sly as a fox
- Snore like a bear
- Swim like a fish
- Wise as an owl
Simile Examples From Literature
Authors and poets frequently use similes in their works, bringing life and meaning to their compositions. Check out these incredible simile examples for inspiration.
- “She walks in beauty like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies.” (“She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron)
- “What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?” (“Harlem” by Langston Hughes)
- “O my Luve is like a red, red rose / That’s newly sprung in June.” (“A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns)
- “Continuous as the stars that shine / And twinkle on the milky way.” (“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth)
- “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.” (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
- “In the eastern sky there was a yellow patch like a rug laid for the feet of the coming sun.” (The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane)
- “The very mystery of him excited her curiosity like a door that had neither lock nor key.” (Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)
- “The water made a sound like kittens lapping.” (The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings)
- “Elderly American ladies leaning on their canes listed towards me like towers of Pisa.” (Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov)
- “Up above the world so high / like a diamond in the sky.” (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” by Anonymous)
Simile Examples From Songs
Song lyrics are full of similes, like those found in these examples.
- “When your heart’s just like a drum / Beating louder with no way to guard it.” (“Permission to Dance” by BTS)
- “My love is like a rocket / Watch it blast off.” (“Levitating” by Dua Lipa)
- “You look like a movie, you sound like a song.” (“When We Were Young” by Adele)
- “Shine bright like a diamond.” (“Diamonds” by Rihanna)
- “I will be rising from the ground like a skyscraper.” (“Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato)
- “Loving him is like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street.” (“Red” by Taylor Swift)
- “And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind.” (“Candle in the Wind” by Elton John)
- “Like a rock, I was strong as I could be.” (“Like a Rock” by Bob Seeger)
- “I’m like a bird, I only fly away.” (“I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado)
- “Hit me like a ray of sun burning through my darkest night.” (“Halo” by Beyoncé)
How To Teach Similes
Looking for some creative ideas for teaching similes in the classroom? Try these clever activities.
Create a simile rainbow
Color similes are a terrific way to start learning this type of figurative speech. Even very young students can come up with color comparisons. Grab a free printable to use at the link, or simply color your own rainbow and add similes to each stripe.
Learn more: Simile Rainbow via The Classroom Creative
Write Hershey’s Kiss similes
Every kid loves learning with a sweet snack! After they use their five senses to describe the candy, students can write similes to bring the descriptions to life.
Learn more: Hershey’s Kiss Similes via Teacher by the Beach
Craft simile mobiles
Pick an item for the main part of the mobile, then write similes on the tags that hang from it. These would make great classroom decorations.
Learn more: Simile Mobiles via School Time Snippets
Visit Planet Simile
Use your imaginations to dream up what aliens from another planet would look like. Then, describe them using lots of creative similes.
Read a mentor text
Dive into pretty much any book, and you’ll find similes galore! Choose a text to share with your class, and have them jot down similes on sticky notes as they hear them. Add them all to an anchor chart you can refer to later on.
Learn more: Simile Mentor Text via Tara Teaches