Metaphor, simile, personification, metonymy

Lily92 2013 M02 16

A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object. Purpose of Metaphors Expressions are...

A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes a subject by asserting that it is, on some point of comparison, the same as another otherwise unrelated object.

Purpose of Metaphors

Expressions are used to give effect to a statement. Imagine how bland a statement such as “he was sad” is, compared to a statement describing a “sea of grief.” The metaphor is sure to give the reader a better idea of the depths of grief in this situation.

Similarly, who would really spend time thinking of the vast differences between success and failure if the metaphor was missing, and the statement was just “Everyone wants to be successful, no one wants to be a failure?” That statement would be a failure itself, in inspiring interest in the conversation!


Metaphors are meant to create an impact in the minds of readers. Other kinds of expressions that belong to this genre are:

  • similes, which make a comparison
  • hyperboles, which are exaggerations
  • antithesis, which use contrasts to prove a point


pronounced: SIM-i-lee

It's been a hard day's night,
and I've been working like a dog
The Beatles

simile is a figure of speech that says that one thing is like another different thing. We can use similes to make descriptions more emphatic or vivid.

We often use the words and like with similes.

Common patterns for similes, with example sentences, are:

  • something [is*] AS adjective AS something
    His skin was as cold as ice.
    It felt as hard as rock.
    She looked as gentle as a lamb.
  • something [is*] LIKE something
    My love is like a red, red rose.
    These cookies taste like garbage.
    He had a temper (that was) like a volcano.
  • something [does**] LIKE something
    He eats like a pig.
    He smokes like a chimney.
    They fought like cats and dogs.

* stative verb: be, feel, smell, taste etc
** action verb


Similes are often found (and they sometimes originate) in poetry and other literature. Here are a few examples:

  • A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle - Irina Dunn
  • Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh - Wilfred Owen
  • Death has many times invited me: it was like the salt invisible in the waves - Pablo Neruda
  • Guiltless forever, like a tree - Robert Browning
  • Happy as pigs in mud - David Eddings
  • How like the winter hath my absence been - William Shakespeare
  • As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Jubilant as a flag unfurled - Dorothy Parker
  • So are you to my thoughts as food to life - William Shakespeare
  • Yellow butterflies flickered along the shade like flecks of sun - William Faulkner

Difference between metaphor and simile IS

Personification is the technique of giving a non-human thing human qualities such as hearing, feeling, talking, or making decisions.  Writers use personification to emphasize something or make it stand out.  Personification makes the material more interesting and creates a new way to look at every day things.

Metonymy is the use of one item's name to represent another item. In particular the representing item usually has a close association with the represented item.


Metonymy is quite close to metaphor, but with a more specific use. Metonymy uses names, whilst metaphor can indicate any representation.

Metonymy substitutes the contained for
the container, the effect for the cause. The connection may sometimes be rather distance, as in metalepsis.

Metonymy can be used in a number of associations, for example:

  • Cause represents effect
  • Container represents the contained
  • A greater thing represents a smaller thing
  • An author represents the book
  • The sign represents the signified

A common use of metonymy is in synecdoche, where a part represents the whole, for example the monarch being described as 'the crown'.

Metonymy comes from the Greek 'metonymia' meaning 'a change of name'. here you can find an explanation and examples of metaphor and similes


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I like your work, the information is full and easy to understand. And many good examples.
You did a very good presentation,I like that can see a lot of examples.
Interesting presentation. Especially, I liked the way how you presented the similie. Good examples!
Lily, your presentation is very interesting!You did a great job.It's hard to explain that everything will be clear but you did it. Examples are visual and they are the first things that strike the eye. And it is really simple to remember examples in pictures.
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