Striking Similes, Page 1 (A-B)

This section of focuses on similes. Writers and speakers use similes to make descriptions more emphatic and vivid.

Similes, figures of speech that are a subset of metaphors, involve comparing one thing with another thing of a different kind, using the words "like" or "as". Writers and speakers use similes to make descriptions more emphatic or vivid.

Study these similes to better understand what these figures of speech are and how you might use them. Consider using these similes or those of your own creation in creative writing.

(A good source on why and how to use metaphors -- include their subset similes -- in creative writing is Purdue University's Online Writing Lab [OWL].)


A blind rage like a fire swept over him

A book that rends and tears like a broken saw

A breath of melancholy made itself felt like a chill and sudden gust from some unknown sea

A cloud in the west like a pall creeps upward

A cloud like a flag from the sky

A cluster of stars hangs like fruit in the tree

A confused mass of impressions, like an old rubbish-heap

A cry as of a sea-bird in the wind

A dead leaf might as reasonably demand to return to the tree

A drowsy murmur floats into the air like thistledown

A face as imperturbable as fate

A face as pale as wax

A face tempered like steel

A fatigued, faded, lusterless air, as of a caged creature

A few pens parched by long disuse

A figure like a carving on a spire

A fluttering as of blind bewildered moths

A giant galleon overhead, looked like some misty monster of the deep

A glacial pang of pain like the stab of a dagger of ice frozen from a poisoned well

A glance that flitted like a bird

A great moon like a red lamp in the sycamore

A grim face like a carved mask

A hand icily cold and clammy as death

A heart from which noble sentiments sprang like sparks from an anvil

A jeweler that glittered like his shop

A lady that lean'd on his arm like a queen in a fable of old fairy days

A life, a Presence, like the air

A life as common and brown and bare as the box of earth in the window there

A light wind outside the lattice swayed a branch of roses to and fro, shaking out their perfume as from a swung censer

A lightning-phrase, as if shot from the quiver of infallible wisdom

A list of our unread books torments some of us like a list of murders

A little breeze ran through the corn like a swift serpent

A little weed-clogged ship, gray as a ghost

A long slit of daylight like a pointing finger

A memory like a well-ordered cupboard

A mighty wind, like a leviathan, plowed the brine

A mind very like a bookcase

A mystery, soft, soothing and gentle, like the whisper of a child murmuring its happiness in its sleep

A name which sounds even now like the call of a trumpet

A note of despairing appeal which fell like a cold hand upon one's living soul

A purpose as the steady flame

A question deep almost as the mystery of life

A quibbling mouth that snapped at verbal errors like a lizard catching flies

A radiant look came over her face, like a sudden burst of sunshine on a cloudy day

A reputation that swelled like a sponge

A ruby like a drop of blood

A shadow of melancholy touched her lithe fancies, as a cloud dims the waving of golden grain

A silver moon, like a new-stamped coin, rode triumphant in the sky

A slow thought that crept like a cold worm through all his brain

A smile flashed over her face, like sunshine over a flower

A soft and purple mist like a vaporous amethyst

A soft haze, like a fairy dream, is floating over wood and stream

A soul as white as heaven

A sound like the throb of a bell

A stooping girl as pale as a pearl

A sudden sense of fear ran through her nerves like the chill of an icy wind

A sweet voice caroling like a gold-caged nightingale

A thin shrill voice like the cry of an expiring mouse

A thing of as frail enchantment as the gleam of stars upon snow

A vague thought, as elusive as the smell of a primrose

A vanishing loveliness as tender as the flush of the rose leaf and as ethereal as the light of a solitary star

A voice as low as the sea

A voice soft and sweet as a tune that one knows

A white bird floats there, like a drifting leaf

Against a sky as clear as sapphire

Age, like winter weather

Agile as a leopard

Agitated like a storm-tossed ship

Air like wine

All around them like a forest swept the deep and empurpled masses of her tangled hair

All like an icicle it seemed, so tapering and cold

All my life broke up, like some great river's ice at touch of spring

All silent as the sheeted dead

All sounds were lost in the whistle of air humming by like the flight of a million arrows

All that's beautiful drifts away like the waters

All the world lay stretched before him like the open palm of his hand

All unconscious as a flower

Alone, like a storm-tossed wreck, on this night of the glad New Year

An anxiety hung like a dark impenetrable cloud

An ardent face out-looking like a star

An ecstasy which suddenly overwhelms your mind like an unexpected and exquisite thought

An envious wind crept by like an unwelcome thought

An ideal as sublime and comprehensive as the horizon

An immortal spirit dwelt in that frail body, like a bird in an outworn cage

An impudent trick as hackneyed as conjuring rabbits out of a hat

An indefinable resemblance to a goat

An isle of Paradise, fair as a gem

An omnibus across the bridge crawls like a yellow butterfly

An undefined sadness seemed to have fallen about her like a cloud

An unknown world, wild as primeval chaos

An unpleasing strain, like the vibration of a rope drawn out too fast

And a pinnace like a flutter'd bird came flying from afar

And a tear like silver, glistened in the corner of her eye

And all our thoughts ran into tears like sunshine into rain

And at first the road comes moving toward me, like a bride waving palms

And Dusk, with breast as of a dove, brooded

And eyes as bright as the day

And fell as cold as a lump of clay

And her cheek was like a rose

And here were forests ancient as the hills

And many a fountain, rivulet, and pond, as clear as elemental diamond, or serene morning air

And melting like the stars in June

And night, as welcome as a friend

And silence like a poultice comes to heal the blows of sound

And spangled over with twinkling points, like stars

And the smile she softly uses fills the silence like a speech

As a child in play scatters the heaps of sand that he has piled on the seashore

As a cloud that gathers her robe like drifted snow

As a flower after a drought drinks in the steady plunging rain

As a leaf that beats on a mountain

As a lion grieves at the loss of her whelps

As a man plowing all day longs for supper and welcomes sunset

As a sea disturbed by opposing winds

As amusing as a litter of likely young pigs

As arbitrary as a cyclone and as killing as a pestilence

As austere as a Roman matron

As beautiful as the purple flush of dawn

As blind as a mole

As brief as sunset clouds in heaven

As bright as sunlight on a stream

As busy as a bee

As cattle driven by a gadfly

As chimney sweepers come to dust

As clear as a whistle

As clear as the parts of a tree in the morning sun

As close as oak and ivy stand

As delicate and as fair as a lily

As delightful to the mind as cool well-water to thirsty lip

As diamond cuts diamond

As direct and unvarying as the course of a homing bird

As distinct as night and morning

As dry as desert dust

As dumb as a fish

As easily as the sun shines

As easy as a turn of the hand

As elastic as a steel spring

As extinct as the dodo

As faint as the memory of a sound

As familiar to him as his alphabet

As fatal as the fang of the most venomous snake

As fleeting and elusive as our dreams

As foam from a ship's swiftness

As fresh and invigorating as a sea-breeze

As full of eager vigor as a mountain stream

As full of spirit as a gray squirrel

As gay and busy as a brook

As gently as the flower gives forth its perfume

As gently as withered leaves float from a tree

As graceful as a bough

As grave as a judge

As great as the first day of creation

As high as heaven

As I dropped like a bolt from the blue

As I dwelt like a sparrow among the spires

As if a door were suddenly left ajar into some world unseen before

As impossible as to count the stars in illimitable space

As in the footsteps of a god

As inaccessible to his feet as the clefts and gorges of the clouds

As inexorable as the flight of time

As innocent as a new laid egg

As iridescent as a soap bubble

As locusts gather to a stream before a fire

As mellow and deep as a psalm

As men strip for a race, so must an author strip for the race with time

As merry as bees in clover

As nimble as water

As one who has climbed above the earth's eternal snowline and sees only white peaks and pinnacles

As pale as any ghost

As patient as the trees

As quick as the movement of some wild animal

As quiet as a nun breathless with adoration

As radiant as the rose

As readily and naturally as ducklings take to water

As reticent as a well-bred stockbroker

As ruthlessly as the hoof of a horse tramples on a rose

As shallow streams run dimpling all the way

As simple as the intercourse of a child with its mother

As sleep falls upon the eyes of a child tired with a long summer day of eager pleasure and delight

As some vast river of unfailing source

As stars that shoot along the sky

As still as a stone

As stupid as a sheep

As sudden as a dislocated joint slipping back into place

As summer winds that creep from flower to flower

As supple as a step-ladder

As swaggering and sentimental as a penny novellete

As swift as thought

As the accumulation of snowflakes makes the avalanche

As the bubble is extinguished in the ocean

As the dew upon the roses warms and melts the morning light

As the fair cedar, fallen before the breeze, lies self-embalmed amidst the moldering trees

As the light straw flies in dark'ning whirlwinds

As the lightning cleaves the night

As the loud blast that tears the skies

As the slow shadows of the pointed grass mark the eternal periods

As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance

As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again

As though Pharaoh should set the Israelites to make a pin instead of a pyramid

As unapproachable as a star

As weird as the elfin lights

As well try to photograph the other side of the moon

At extreme tension, like a drawn bow

Away he rushed like a cyclone

Awkward as a cart-horse


Babbling like a child

Balmy in manner as a bland southern morning

Be like the granite of thy rock-ribbed land

Beauteous she looks as a water-lily

Beautiful as the dawn, dominant as the sun

Beauty maddens the soul like wine

Beheld great Babel, wrathful, beautiful, burn like a blood-red cloud upon the plain

Beneath a sky as fair as summer flowers

Bent like a wand of willow

Black as a foam-swept rock

Black his hair as the wintry night

Blithe as a bird

Bounded by the narrow fences of life

Bowed like a mountain

Breaking his oath and resolution like a twist of rotten silk

Breathed like a sea at rest

Bright as a diamond in the sun

Bright as a fallen fragment of the sky

Bright as the coming forth of the morning, in the cloud of an early shower

Bright as the sunbeams

Bright as the tear of an angel, glittered a lonely star

Brisk as a wasp in the sunshine

Brittle and bent like a bow

Bronze-green beetles tumbled over stones, and lay helpless on their backs with the air of an elderly clergyman knocked down by an omnibus

Brown as the sweet smelling loam

Brute terrors like the scurrying of rats in a deserted attic

Buried in his library like a mouse in a cheese

Burns like a living coal in the soul

But across it, like a mob's menace, fell the thunder

But thou art fled, like some frail exhalation

Butterflies like gems

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Editor's note: This section of is excerpted and adapted from Project Gutenberg's Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases, by Grenville Kleiser.

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