What is a simile?

In this free English lesson you'll learn about similes: what does simile mean, what is the definition of a simile, and see a list of simile examples. By the end, the answers will be as clear as day.
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Introduction to similes

If you’re wondering ‘What’s a simile?’ then you’re in the right place.  In this lesson, we’ll cover: what does simile mean; you’ll get a list of 100 simile examples; as well as simile definitions and simile meanings.  We’ll describe the difference between a simile vs. metaphor and we’ve even created a wonderful video of descriptive similes as examples of colloquial language in English, for you to enjoy.  You can use the below table of contents to navigate this page.

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What is a simile?

First let’s consider what a simile is.  A simile involves the comparison of one thing with a different thing in order to add emphasis, colour or clarity to a description.  Usually, the two things that are compared are unlike, but share a characteristic.  Similes use ‘like’ or ‘as’ to compare two things.  For example, she was as white as a ghost.  He sang like a bird.  

You can use similes to describe a person, or an object, or a landscape, an environment… you can use similes to describe anything really.

How to pronounce simile

Simile is an interesting word.  It’s difficult to understand how to pronounce simile from its spelling.  It’s difficult to understand how to spell simile from it’s pronunciation.  So let’s look at both now.  

The definition of simile, as well as the phonetic spelling and examples of how to pronounce simile can be found in the Cambridge dictionary

How to spell simile phonetically UK: /ˈsɪm.ɪ.li/ 

How to spell simile phonetically US: /ˈsɪm.ə.li/

Now use the audio player to hear our head teacher Anna demonstrate how to pronounce simile in a British English accent.  Why not record your own pronunciation on your phone and compare it with Anna’s.

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How to Pronounce Simile

by Anna English - Head Teacher, English Like A Native

The difference between a simile and a metaphor

A simile and a metaphor are both examples of figurative language.  Figurative phrases give examples or descriptions that are not understandable in literal terms.  Both similes and metaphors are used to make comparisons.  However, metaphors compare two things directly whereas similes use the word ‘like’ or ‘as’ to make the comparison.  Let’s look at an example using love.  

Love simile: Their love was as hot as fire.

Love metaphor: Their love was a bonfire of emotions.

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Free English lesson on Similes

Here is our head English teacher, Anna, with a video lesson on 20 Similes in Colloquial English.  You can download the notes for this lesson by subscribing to our free weekly English lessons.

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Here is a list of similes – 100 similes with examples. 

Below you will find a list of similes, 100 similes with examples for you to read, understand, and perhaps memorise a few of your favourites.  We’ve helpfully ordered them into categories for you.

20 Funny similes for colloquial English

Let’s start by having a look at some funny similes that you can use in everyday, colloquial English.  Some are more figurative than other simpler similes. To help you, we’ve provided a definition of the simile and simile examples.

As blind as a bat

Blind – ‘Help, I’m as blind as a bat without my glasses’.

As busy as a bee

Busy – ‘My little girl Alison has been as busy as a bee with school, homework, football practice and learning her lines for the school play. I can barely keep up’.

As cold as a fish

This is a funny one which means to be unemotional – ‘I really thought he cared about me, but when I told him I was moving away, he was as cold as a fish’.

As clean as a whistle

To be ‘as clean as a whistle’ means to be very clean. It can be used literally to mean something isn’t dirty or to describe someone or something that is free of incriminating evidence – ‘We had to let him go, we searched him and his bags but he was as clean as a whistle’.

As clear as mud

Something is very confusing or difficult to understand – ‘I’ve been studying algebra for two months now and it’s as clear as mud’.

As cool as a cucumber

To be calm and relaxed – ‘Some idiot has just run into the back of our car.  I am absolutely fuming but Gareth, well, he’s as cool as a cucumber’.

As dead as a doornail

Completely lifeless. ‘The cat brought in a bird and I tried to save it but it was dead as a doornail’.

As fit as a fiddle

In good condition or health – ‘The doctor says I’m as fit as a fiddle and allowed to go back on the pitch’.

As fresh as a daisy

Either to be fresh and clean or to be full of energy and enthusiasm – ‘Little Leo has been off school with the chicken pox but today he’s turned up as fresh as a daisy’.

As tough as nails/as hard as nails

Very strong and determined – ‘Justine has been through so much this year. She lost her cat, she lost her job, she lost her Versace handbag, but she still keeps going with a smile on her face. She’s as tough as nails that girl’.

As good as gold

A very well-behaved child – ‘We had a lovely day on Saturday hanging out with my parents and Oliver was as good as gold, he loves his grandma’.

As mad as a box of frogs

Crazy (can be used to be kind or insulting) – ‘I love our neighbour – she’s as mad as a box of frogs and she’s so kind’.

As clear as day

Easy to see or understand – ‘She stood there smoking right outside the hospital door, even though there was a no smoking sign right in front of her, as plain as day. It’s so disrespectful!’

As pleased as Punch

Very pleased or happy – ‘If I get the promotion I want then I’ll be as pleased as Punch’.

As quiet as a mouse

Very very quiet – ‘I was supposed to be home over an hour ago. I’ll need to be quiet as a mouse to sneak in without waking her’.

As right as rain

To feel healthy or well again after being unwell, sad or under pressure. ‘Sorry I snapped at you earlier, I’m just tired. As soon as I have a good night’s sleep I’ll be as right as rain’.

As sick as a dog

To be very unwell, sick and vomiting – ‘Poor Angela. She’s not at work today because she’s ill.  She’s as sick as a dog I was told’.

As easy as ABC

An easy learning process – ‘Is this your first time making cupcakes?  Oh wonderful, well don’t be nervous, baking is as easy as ABC’.

As flat as a pancake

Very flat and level – ‘Compared to other countries with huge mountains and volcanoes, most of England is as flat as a pancake’.

As quick as a wink/flash

Very quickly – ‘She replied to my email as quick as a wink’.

Similes for Happy

Let’s start the next section of this list by looking at similes for happy.  These happy similes will hopefully make you smile.

  1. Happy as a pig in muck
  2. Happy as larry
  3. Happy as a fish in water
  4. Happy as a clam
Happy similes, what is a simile
What is a simile for animals

Animal similes

These next similes are all about animals.  Animal similes are great as people can easily relate to these figurative descriptions.  

  1. As happy as a clam
  2. As wise as an owl
  3. As strong as an ox
  4. As slippery as an eel
  5. As proud as a peacock
  6. As innocent as a lamb 
  7. As quiet as a mouse
  8. As sly as a fox
  9. As free as a bird
  10. As dead as a dodo
  11. As graceful as a gazelle
  12. As hungry as a horse
  13. Like a fish out of water

Love similes

What is talked about more in figurative language than love?  Love similes are made famous in writing, movies and plays.  Let’s look at a few of the most famous love similes. 

  1. Love is like a red, red rose
  2. My love is like a deep well
  3. Love is like war

And to continue the theme of Love similes, let’s look at a few famous quotes: 

  1. Bruce Lee: Love is like a friendship caught on fire
  2. Aretha Franklin: Falling out of love is like losing weight
  3. Oscar Wilde: A life without love is like a sunless garden when all the flowers are dead.
  4. Bon Jovi – My heart is like an open highway

Like similes 

Most of the similes we have looked at so far use ‘as …. as a …..’.  However, you can use ‘Like similes’ to compare or describe something.  Let’s have a look at a few like similes now.

  1. Working like a dog
  2. Eat like a pig
  3. Swims like a fish
  4. Fight like cats and dogs
  5. Soar like an eagle
  6. Shine bright like a diamond
  7. Leak like a sieve 
  8. Slept like a baby
  9. Meander like a river
  10. Ran like a scared child
  11. Off like a shot
Like Similes

As fast as simile

Next we will have a quick look at a few fast similes.  We’ll include as and like similes here as well as fast similes and slow similes. 

  1. As fast as a speeding bullet
  2. It went like a flash
  3. As quick as lightning
  4. As rapid as a gazelle
  5. As quick as a fox
  6. As slow as a snail
  7. As slow as a tortoise
  8. Like watching paint dry
  9. Like watching grass grow
  10. Progress was like a glacier
A list of 100 similes for beautiful

As beautiful as simile

Beauty similes can contain the word beautiful, a synonym of beautiful or just be a beautiful simile in their own right.  Let’s look at a few simile examples now. 

  1. As beautiful as the first flower in spring.
  2. As beautiful as the day 
  3. As beautiful as the snow
  4. As beautiful as a rose
  5. Beautiful as a sunset. 
  6. Beautiful as the day we met
  7. As beautiful as ever
  8. As beautiful as I remember
  9. As pretty as a picture
  10. As cute as a button

As white as simile

75. As white as snow
76. As white as a sheet
77. As plain as paper
78. As white as a ghost

As cold as simile

79. As cold as ice
80. As cold as stone
81. As cold as a dog’s nose

As black as simile

82. As black as soot
83. As black as coal

As soft as simile

84. As soft as silk
85. As soft as a baby’s bottom
86. As soft as velvet
87. As soft as fur

Similes for excited 

88. As excited as a kitten
89. As excited as a kid at Christmas
90. As kind as simile
91. As kind as a dove
92. As kind as an angel

As hot as simile 

93. As hot as the sun
94. As hot as fire
95. As hot as hell

Angry simile 

96. As angry as a bull
97. As angry as a hornet
98. As angry as a badger
89. As angry as can be

As quiet as simile 

100. As quiet as a mouse

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