Metaphors and Similes . . . What’s the Difference?

Metaphors and similes . . . what’s the difference? You probably use both in your writing without thinking . . . but if you did think about them, maybe you could make greater use of them? (Plus of course you can dazzle your friends at parties with your knowledge, hehe!)

Most of you will know that similes and metaphors are a form of figurative language, used to build up a picture in readers’ minds, create atmosphere and add interest. The Bible is full of both. But do you know the difference between the two?

Just in case you don’t:

Similes describe something as or like something else.

Metaphors don’t make a comparison.


So metaphors are the icing on the cake. Similes are like the icing on the cake. (I made this gingerbread house for my daughter and her family when they moved into their new home. :-))

Gingerbread house

Here are some examples of metaphors (something is something, not like something):

  • You’re a chicken
  • A blanket of snow
  • Her bedroom was a pigsty

Here are some examples of similes (there’s a comparison):

  • The jam in the doughnut was as hot as lava (probably reheated in the microwave – ever done that and burned the roof of your mouth? :-))
  • She walked like a duck
  • We all like sheep have gone astray


Janet Wilson, founder of Dernier Publishing and Write for a Reason

Janet Wilson, founder of Dernier Publishing and Write for a Reason

Is that helpful? How about getting out your current story and seeing if you can add a few metaphors and similes – not clichés, of course!




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