You might have heard or read about M S Dhoni, India’s Cricket Captain, being described as a person who is as cool as a cucumber. The phrase ‘as cool as a cucumber’ is a figure of speech called a SIMILE and it means that M S Dhoni is a captain who does not get ruffled and always stays calm and relaxed - especially in a difficult situation. Actually, the coolness of cucumber is used to describe M S Dhoni’s state of mind when he is confronted with a difficult situation.
Similes are one type of what are known as figures of speech. Figures of speech are ways of expression resorted to by a writer or speaker to lay emphasis on their point of view in a more colourful way than simple grammar and vocabulary allow. There are many figures of speech and four of the important ones are simile, metaphor, hyperbole and personification.
A simile is a figure of speech that uses comparison as a means of communicating something forcefully. Similes use the words ‘as’ and ‘like’ to directly compare. In the Dhoni example you will notice that ‘as’ is used. An example with ‘like’ is ‘he smoked LIKE a chimney’ where a person is said to be smoking so much that their cigarettes make as much smoke as a chimney does!
The purpose of a simile is to allow the writer or speaker to use a technique whereby a feeling, idea or meaning supports the main idea and the technique is the comparison with something more popular and easily understood by the reader or listener. Similes can help make the English language funny, serious, mean, or creative. Take this quiz and see how many of the following similes you can correctly identify.