Understanding the meaning of an analogy is key to the success of the analogy in communication. Some analogies will be understood by most people that speak the same language. Within small social groups of people, there are often shared analogies that bind the group together. Other analogies are only understood by people living in a certain region or country.
Common Analogies and Their Meanings
Analogy examples with corresponding meanings are the best way to show the meaning of the word “analogy.” The following is a list of some common analogies and an explanation of their meaning.
- The relationship between them began to thaw. This means that the relationship was changing.
- You are as annoying as nails on a chalkboard. You must be pretty annoying for someone to say that.
- I am going to be toast when I get home. This is usually said when someone is in trouble with their significant other.
- He is like a rock. This means he is steadfast and strong.
- She attended the celebrity roast. The person being roasted is being honored by people making harmless jokes about him or her.
- I feel like a fish out of water. This implies that you are not comfortable in your surroundings.
- She was offended when I said she was as flaky as a snowstorm. That isn’t a very nice comparison to make.
- There are plenty of fish in the sea. Unless you really are a fish, this encourages you to move on and find another potential mate.
- She was as quiet as a mouse. It is hard to hear a mouse, so that means she was very quiet.
- Bing Crosby had a velvet voice. Since voices are not made of velvet, this implies that his voice was smooth and soothing.
- Life is like a box of chocolates. This has many meanings and is a great analogy for life.
For examples that would be particularly fun and informative for children, check out Analogy Examples for Kids.
Many writers and public figures have also used analogies to explain their positions or their opinions on an issue. For instance, consider the following analogy examples:
- "I am to dancing what Roseanne is to singing and Donald Duck to motivational speeches. I am as graceful as a refrigerator falling down a flight of stairs." - Leonard Pitts, "Curse of Rhythm Impairment" Miami Herald, Sep. 28, 2009
- "If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe." Peter De Vries, Let Me Count the Ways
- "Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." - Don Marquis
- "They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water." - George Orwell, A Hanging
- "Withdrawal of U.S. troops will become like salted peanuts to the American public; the more U.S. troops come home, the more will be demanded." - Henry Kissinger in a Memo to President Richard Nixon
- “... worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum." - Baz Luhrmann, Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)
- "Dumb gorgeous people should not be allowed to use literature when competing in the pick-up pool. It's like bald people wearing hats." - Matt McGrath from the movie Broken Hearts Club
Similes and Metaphors
Some analogies are similes and some are metaphors. A simile is where two unlike things are compared while a metaphor is where unlike things have something in common.
A simile compares two things using the words “as” or “like.” An example of a simile would be “you are as stubborn as a mule” which means to convey the fact that you are being very stubborn. Another example would be “He is as blind as a bat” meaning he doesn’t see very well.
Similes are widely used by authors, songwriters, and poets. Following are some sweet similes:
- Sweet as the last smile of sunset
- Sweet as the twilight notes of the thrush
- Sweet as the infant spring
- Sweet as a cat with syrup in its paws
- Sweet as morning dew upon a rose
- Sweet as summer's showers
Metaphors are an analogy where two unlike things are compared but have something in common. It sounds like you are stating a fact, but you have to think about it for it to make sense.
For example, if you say, “you are the wind beneath my wings” you are not saying that a person can actually be wind. Instead, you are referring to the support you get from that person.
Metaphors can be humorous while still getting the point across. Others use strange comparisons but are still effective. Examples include:
- Don't be such an airhead
- Blueberry stains are stubborn
- Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it
- I’ll die of embarrassment
- The new player is green
- Set the wheels in motion
- He is a diamond in the rough
- Late breaking news
- Bursting with flavor
Analogies as a Part of Language
When you learn a new language, you learn word meanings and sentence structure. To really be fluent in a language takes a lot more than just knowing the basics. Language is also full of analogies that can vary by region or by groups of people.
Every language not only has dialects and idioms, but changes over time. Words and phrases can begin to be used by the masses very quickly, especially with television and the Internet.
To become fluent in a language takes more than knowing the meaning of every word. You will need to practice with native speakers of the language to also learn the everyday use of the language, such as the use of the analogy.