A simile is a figure of speech that likens one thing to another (usually by using the word like or as).

Easy Examples of Similes

  • His woollen scarf hung around his neck like a dead skunk.
  • He was as cool as the other side of the pillow.

More Examples of Similes

  • A room without books is like a body without a soul. (Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero)
  • His teeth looked like an unkempt picket fence.
  • He rolled out of bed like a fruit fly stuck in honey.
  • Her vocabulary was like, yeah, whatever.

Why Should I Care about Similes

A simile can be a great way to explain or promote an idea. Similes are used to create mental pictures that will help your readers grasp your idea with the same clarity as you. They are far more common in creative writing than business writing, but they have utility in both.

Used sparingly in business writing, similes can be memorable and impactful and make you look confident. They can also be used to clarify your stance on an issue.
  • "Plan A would be like throwing the pilot out of a stricken aircraft to make it lighter."
  • (Plan A might be complex, but this simile makes it clear you think Plan A is counter-productive.)
Be mindful, however, that overusing similes in business writing can portray you as flippant or dull (especially if they're tired similes). The following quote captures the risk of using an old simile:
  • "The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot." (Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali)

Key Point

  • Expressing an idea with a simile is like Snapchatting your mind's eye.
  • If it's appropriate for your business document, you can use a fresh simile to clarify or to highlight your idea. But don't use two.
Home Page Mathematics Monster Cyber Definitions Grammar Monster