Metaphor vs. Simile

Difference Between Metaphor and Simile


Both these terms are so similar that they cause a lot of confusion. They are different aspects of the same language. A simile is a metaphor but a metaphor is not a simile.

It is a quite a strong mode of persuasion and it uses something that means something else. There is a comparison between the two. E.g. ‘He has become the shell of a man’. It does not mean the actual transformation of the man into a shell. It means that the man has lost his internal essence. Actually a metaphor is used as a substitution.

A simile makes comparison of two things to bring forward a meaning. So if we are to use a simile in the previous example the sentence will become ’He is like the shell of a man’. A simile compares between things that are not related and makes them seem similar.

If simile in regarded as an approximation, then metaphor must be an equation. However simile cannot be upturned, replaced and changed unlike the metaphor which can be replaced, changed by other metaphors.

The use of a simile requires more explanation. E.g In the sentence ‘clouds are like cotton candies’. Here we can extend the simile further and describe whether it is the color or texture of the cloud that is described to cotton candies. However a metaphor can be understood quickly as it needs no explanation. E.g. The car is a cell. This sentence is a metaphor. The aspect of the car protecting the passengers, the getting in and out etc is compared to as being like a cell. We get a clear idea about the comparison. If ‘like’ is used in this sentence then the sentence becomes a simile. This is a  general tendency however not a necessary aspect.

Simile is more poetic and metaphor is has an essence of truth. Errors happen as the expressions are based on the way people understand it. The writer may want to express something while the reader may get something that is totally different.



1. A Simile can be called a metaphor however all metaphors cannot be called similes.

2. A metaphor resembles an equation while simile more of an approximation.


Category: VS  |  Tags: