A figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase introduced by like or as.
From Latin, "likeness" or "comparison"
"Good coffee is like friendship: rich and warm and strong."(slogan of Pan-American Coffee Bureau)
"You know life, life is rather like opening a tin of sardines. We're all of us looking for the key."(Alan Bennett, Beyond the Fringe, 1960)
"When Lee Mellon finished the apple he smacked his lips together like a pair of cymbals."(Richard Brautigan, A Confederate General From Big Sur, 1964)
"He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow."(George Eliot, Adam Bede, 1859)
"Human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out tunes that make bears dance, when we want to move the stars to pity."
(Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, 1856)
"Humanity, let us say, is like people packed in an automobile which is traveling downhill without lights at terrific speed and driven by a four-year-old child. The signposts along the way are all marked 'Progress.'"
"The living self has one purpose only: to come into its own fullness of being, as a tree comes into full blossom, or a bird into spring beauty, or a tiger into lustre."
(D.H. Lawrence, "Each Man Shall Be Spontaneously Himself")
"Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep."
Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes. No!
Donkey: They make you cry?
Donkey: You leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprouting little white hairs.
Shrek: No! Layers! Onions have layers!
"The interior of the Earth is rather like an onion, made up of a series of concentric shells or layers."
(Martin Redfern, The Earth: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford Univ. Press, 2003)
"My face looks like a wedding-cake left out in the rain."
"[H]e looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."
(Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely, 1940)
"The plants filled the place, a forest of them, with nasty meaty leaves and stalks like the newly washed fingers of dead men."
(Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, 1939)
"Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming."
(John Updike, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," 1960)
"It is all, God help us, a matter of rocks. The rocks shape life like hands around swelling dough."
(Annie Dillard, "Life on the Rocks: The Galápagos")
"you fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye"
" . . . Here comes
The white-haired thistle seed stumbling past through the branches
Like a paper lantern carried by a blind man."
(W.S. Merwin, "Sire." The Second Four Books of Poems. Copper Canyon Press, 1993)
"She dealt with moral problems as a cleaver deals with meat."
(James Joyce, "The Boarding House")
"She has a voice like a baritone sax issuing from an oil drum, and hams even with her silences."
(John Simon, reviewing Kathleen Turner in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, April 2005)
"He's got a face like a wet Sunday in a debtors' prison."
(Joe Bennett, Mustn't Grumble. Simon & Schuster, 2006)
"A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard."
(George Orwell, "A Hanging," 1931)
"If you are interested in becoming a TV journalist, it is a fine example of how not to do it. I look like an exploding tomato and shout like a jet engine and every time I see it [the video] makes me cringe."
(John Sweeney, "Row Over Scientology Video." BBC News, May 14, 2007)
"My memory is proglottidean, like the tapeworm, but unlike the tapeworm it has no head, it wanders in a maze, and any point may be the beginning or the end of its journey."
(Umberto Eco, "The Gorge")
"Matt Leinart slid into the draft like a bald tire on black ice."
(Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 25, 2007)