List of similes

A simile is a type of idiom. It likens one thing to another thing.

Similes often contain as … as or like.

As … as similes (e.g. as heavy as lead, as strong as an ox) always begin with an adjective and are easy to understand, even if you don’t know the meaning of the noun which follows. (In the above examples the nouns are lead and ox.)

Common English similes

Very common similes

as strong as an ox (about a person with great strength)
as light as a feather (when something weighs very little)
as busy as a bee
as quiet as a mouse (someone who is shy and untalkative; someone who is being quiet so as not to be heard)
as quick as a flash (when something moves fast; someone does something quickly)
as dry as a bone (when something is very or totally dry)

Similes with colours

as white as a sheet (when somene’s face is white due to fear)
as red as a beetroot (someone’s face when embarrassed)
as brown as a berry (when someone has a deep suntan)
as black as night

Similes with ‘sick’

These two similes both start with sick but have different meanings:

as sick as a dog (sick in the sense of vomiting)
as sick as a parrot (sick in the sense of extremely disappointed)

Use these similes with care

Watch out – the following similes might be a little offensive and should be used with care:

as deaf as a post (to describe someone who hears badly)
as blind as a bat (to describe someone who sees badly)
as thin as a rake (to describe someone who is very slim/underweight)
as mad as a hatter (to describe someone who is eccentric)
as drunk as a lord (when someone has drunk too much)

Similes with ‘like’

to eat like a horse (to describe someone who always has a big appetite)
to drink like a fish (to describe someone who always drinks a lot of alcohol)
to have a memory like a sieve (about a forgetful person – sieves have holes in them)
to sleep like a log (to sleep very deeply and for a long time)
to have eyes like a hawk (describing someone who sees every small detail)
to work like a dream (when something works perfectly, e.g. a plan, a machine)

Want to test yourself on similes? Try this: intermediate exercise: similes >>