Similes - Common Comparisons in English

Similes: Common Comparisons in English

Have you tried to compare two things before and you find yourself at a loss for what to say? Then this post, Similes: Common Comparisons in English, will certainly be of help of help to you. A simile is one of the numerous figures of speech in English. Let us define what a figure of speech is and also describe the concept of simile.

Figure of Speech: A Definition

Let me give you two definition classic definitions that will clearly explain what a figure of speech is. They are

Chris Baldick’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

Chris Baldick his Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms defines Figure of Speech as:

“An expression that departs from the accepted literal sense or from the normal order of words, or in which an emphasis is produced by patterns of sound. Such figurative language is an especially important resource of poetry, although not every poem will use it; it is also constantly present in all other kinds of speech and writing, even though it usually passes unnoticed.”

George Puttenham’s Art of English Poesie

Peter Childs and Roger Fowler, in their edited Routledge Dictionary of Literary Terms, quoted George Puttenham’s definition of ‘figurative speech’ in his work, The Art of English Poesie, (1589) which goes thus:

“A novelty of language evidently (and yet not absurdly) estranged from the ordinary habit and manner of our daily talk and writing, and figure itself is a certain lively or good grace set upon words, speeches, and sentences to some purpose and not in vain, giving them ornament or efficacy by many manner of alterations in shape, in sound, and also in sense, sometime by way of surplusage, sometime by defect, sometime by disorder, or mutation, and also by putting into our speeches more pith and substance, subtlety, quickness, efficacy, or moderation, in this or that sort tuning and tempering them, by amplification, abridgement, opening, closing, enforcing, meekening, or otherwise disposing them to the best purpose.”

What is Simile?

A simile is one of the most popular figures of speech in English. Etymologically, the word ‘simile’ derives from the Latin word, similis which means like. A simile, therefore, is a statement or an expression of comparison that contains the word ‘like’ or ‘as’. Consider these sentences:

  • She talks like a parrot.
  • They ate hungrily like starved wolves.
  • He is as cunning as a fox.
  • The rumour spread like harmattan wildfires.
  • The young lady is as slim as Harry Potter’s wand.

Similes: Common Comparisons in English

There are conventionally common similes that are as old as the English language itself. They have existed in the public domain. There are some you are familiar with, and maybe there are some you do not know. Find below a list of eighty (80) of such similes…

80 Common Similes in English

List 1

  1. Agile as a monkey
  2. Alike as two peas in a pod
  3. Bald as a coot
  4. Black as ebony
  5. Blind as a bat
  6. Bold as brass
  7. Brave as a lion
  8. Brown as a berry
  9. Calm as a millpond
  10. Changeable as the moon
  11. Cheerful as the day is long
  12. Clear as daylight
  13. Clear as. mud (not clear at all)
  14. Common as muck
  15. Cool as a cucumber
  16. Cunning as a fox
  17. Dead as a doornail
  18. Deaf as a post
  19. Drunk as a lord
  20. Dry as a bone
  21. Dry as dust (boring)
  22. Dull as ditchwater
  23. Easy as pie
  24. Easy as falling off a log
  25. Fit as a fiddle
  26. Flat as a pancake
  27. Frisky as a colt
  28. Good as gold
  29. Green as grass
  30. Happy as a pig in a muck
  31. Happy as a sandboy
  32. Hard as nails
  33. Helpless as a babe in arms
  34. Hollow as a drum
  35. Hot as hell
  36. Innocent as a new-born babe
  37. Keen as mustard
  38. Light as feather
  39. Lively as a cricket
  40. Mad as a hatter

List 2

  1. Merry as a lark
  2. Neat as a pin
  3. Old as the hills/Methuselah
  4. Patient as Job
  5. Plain as a pikestaff
  6. Playful as a kitten
  7. Pleased as Punch
  8. Poor as a church mouse
  9. Pretty as a picture
  10. Proud as a peacock
  11. Quick as a flash
  12. Quiet as a mouse
  13. Rare as a hen’s teeth
  14. Rich as Croesus
  15. Safe as houses
  16. Sharp as a razor
  17. Sick as a dog
  18. Sick as a parrot (disappointed)
  19. Silent as the grave
  20. Simple as ABC
  21. Slow as a snail
  22. Sly as a fox
  23. Smart as paint
  24. Smooth as silk
  25. Sober as a judge
  26. Straight as a die
  27. Stubborn as a mule
  28. Sure as death
  29. Swift as an arrow
  30. Tall as a steeple
  31. Thick as thieves (friendly)
  32. Thick as two short planks (stupid)
  33. Thin as a rake
  34. Tight as a drum
  35. Tough as old boots
  36. Uncertain as the weather
  37. Weak as water
  38. White as snow/a ghost
  39. Wily as a fox
  40. Wise as Solomon

Going through this list, you should not be at a loss anymore when you have to compare tow things. You can also check out my interesting post on the Collection of English Proverbs.


Baldick, Chris. (2001). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford University Press: New York

Childs, Peter and Fowler, Roger (2006). The Routledge Dictionary of Literary Terms. Routledge: New York


  1. Hello.This article was extremely motivating, particularly since I was looking for thoughts on this topic last Wednesday.

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