Similes are a tool used in the English language to emphasise or embellish a description. They normally contain the words 'like' or 'as a', for example, 'cool as a cucumber' meaning that someone is cool under pressure. They are often confused with metaphors, which apply a characteristic that would not normally belong to that that object or action, for example, 'I am an early bird', meaning, I get up early. Let's look at some common examples that you may hear in everyday speech.
1. As strong as an ox - Oxen are known for their strength and ability to manage large loads and heavy workloads on their own. An example would be, 'He had very large muscles and was as strong as an ox'.
2. Like shooting fish in a barrel - This intimates that something was very easy to do, especially if it is getting people to do something you want, for example, 'Getting people to buy my cakes was like shooting fish in a barrel.'
3. As brave as a lion - Lions are seen as the king of the animals, who are afraid of nothing, and so this one is seen as a real compliment! An example would be, 'He was as brave as a lion as he walked out to take the penalty.'
4. Growing like a weed - this refers to anything that is growing really fast, but is most often applied to hair and children, for example, 'I haven't seen your daughter since last year. She is growing like a weed!'
5. As timid as a mouse - Mice are known to be quiet and shy creatures and that is exactly what this simile means. An example would be, 'When the teacher asked her a question, she was as timid as a mouse.'
6. Run like the wind - The wind is fast. Running like the wind means going as fast as you can. The wind is also invisible and so this can also mean in a stealthy manner.
7. As clear as mud - This one is also an oxymoron as mud is not clear at all! It is used to express a lack of understanding due to poor instruction, for example, 'That presentation was as clear as mud.'