“Simile: (Latin neuter of similis ‘like’) A figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another, in such a way as to clarify and enhance an image. It is an explicit comparison (as opposed to the metaphor, q.v., where the comparison is implicit) recognizable by the use of the words ‘like’ or ‘as.’ It is equally common in prose and verse and is a figurative device of great antiquity. The following example comes from Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train:

‘The great blast furnaces of Liege rose along the line like ancient castles burning in a border raid.’

And this instance in verse from Ted Hughes’ poem February:

‘The wolf with its belly stitched full of big pebbles;

Nibelung wolves barbed like black pine forest

Across a red sky, over blue snow…’

See also EPIC SIMILE.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

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