What is Metaphor?

What Is a Metaphor

A comparison without using like or as.


  1. “The sun in the west was a drop of burning gold that slid near and nearer the sill of the world.” — Lord of the Flies
  2. “When you're cruising down the road in the fast lane and you lazily sail past a few hard-driving cars and are feeling pretty pleased with yourself and then accidentally change from fourth to first instead of third thus making your engine leap out of your hood in a rather ugly mess, it tends to throw you off your stride in much the same way that this remark threw Ford Prefect off his.”  — The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  3. “My blood turned to ice.” — The Witches
  4. Conscience is a man’s compass. —Vincent Van Gogh

Why Use Metaphors?

Metaphors pair the intangible with the literal.

And though they may appear exaggerations, they help explain ideas and create powerful imagery.

Metaphor vs. Simile vs. Analogy

  1. A metaphor represents one thing as something else.

Example: She’s an ice queen.

  1. A simile implies something is similar to something else and uses the words like or as. 

So, all similes are metaphors, but not all metaphors are similes.

Example: Her heart is as cold as ice.

  1. An analogy says something is like something else to explain or argue a point.

Both similes and metaphors can create analogies.

Example: Life is like a box of chocolates


  1. Absolute Metaphors compare two things that have no obvious connection.

Example: He shed light on the situation.

  1. Dead Metaphors are clichéd comparisons that have lost their power.

Example: The body of an essay originally compared the human body to an essay, but readers rarely still make this connection.

  1. Extended Metaphors continue through a series of sentences to create deep comparisons.

Example: The cave felt like a dragon’s belly . Erik’s neck hair stood on end. The walls felt alive, as if he was trapped until they spit him out.

  1. Implied Metaphors compares two things without naming them.

Example: Marcus tucked his tail and ran.

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