descriptors / writers resources

51 Great Similes to Spark Imagination

I love similes. They say more in 5-10 words than a whole paragraph. They are like spice to a stew, or perfume to an evening out. They evoke images far beyond the range of words.

Simile–the comparison of two unlike things using the word ‘like’ or ‘as’.  As bald as a newborn babe. As blind as a bat. As white as snow.

Wait–no self-respecting writer would use those. Similes are as much about displaying the writer’s facility with her/his craft as communicating. We are challenged to come up with new comparisons no one has heard before. I’ve seen contests on writer’s blogs for similes and most leave me bored, if not disgusted. It’s harder than it looks to create a simile that works. Look at these I found on G+:

  • #1 – Being with him was like sitting through a Twilight Marathon, all sparkles and self-loathing.
  • #2 – She was as nervous as my guinea pig, Mittens, when we turned him loose in the hog-stall last winter. Soon we found out that he wasn’t THAT sort of a pig .
  • #3 – The snow fell like billions of breadcrumbs, promising a flurry of activity and a huge pile of shit in the aftermath .
  • #4 – Her eyes were as blue as the ink in my pen, that trickled its life’s blood gently down the front of my pocket, as I tried in vain to get her attention..
  • #5 – His hair soared in the wind like a captive egret, finally released into the wild. Not a minute had passed before a passerby made a joke about “if it was truly yours, it’ll come back to you…” He punched that person.

OK, there’s one more rule about similes: Make them concise. If you look at the tried-and-true ones above, you’ll notice they’re pithy and quick:

  • dead as a doornail
  • blind as a bat
  • dry as dust
  • good as gold

They also seem to benefit from alliteration, though that isn’t required.

I’ve started collecting the ones I read that I like, hoping they’ll spark my imagination when the need arises. Enjoy these (and the occasional metaphor thrown in):

  • Stuck out like a leg in a cast, like a dick on a female statue (or, as I’ve read: like a blue dick on a pig)
  • Tangled as Grandma’s yarn
  • Like Vulcan Kal-tow
  • Sense of menace, like the purr of a puma feasting on an elk
  • As supportive as a good recliner
  • Like having someone else’s shadow
  • Hung around his neck like a dead skunk
  • Memories jumped him like muggers in the darkness
  • when the click of the front door lock behind her sounds like the trumpet of angels
  • Like putting toothpaste back in the tube
  • dug in like a tick
  • set up like a bowling pin (ala Jerry Garcia)
  • as flexible as a rubber band
  • fell on me and like mold, grew over the top
  • on it like a NASCAR pit crew & it disappeared in minutes
  • change his views like leaves change colors
  • they melted away like snow from a fire
  • computers are like dogs; they smell fear
  • like exchanging stares with a statue
  • It’s good to get up each morning as though your hair were on fire
  • Belly preceding him like a cowcatcher on a locomotive
  • like the difference between being thrown from the 15th and 16th floor–they both kill you
  • that’s a stretch like a fat lady in ski pants
  • looked like a college football player ten years out of shape
  • waste you like a popsicle on a warm day
  • stupider than a ball-peen hammer
  • limp like an uprooted weed
  • looked like a sunrise, extravagant and full of promise
  • like air, you never tire of breathing it
  • more beautiful than a bird dog on point
  • our troops are the steel in our ship of state
  • Is your garage like your garden or like your television set?
  • Like a violin in a marching band
  • Like a fireman, summoned only when there was trouble
  • As limp as a French handshake
  • Wanted to hear bad news like he wanted to remove a bandage—quickly as possible
  • Collapsed like the French in Algeria
  • Not unlike a long walk in tight shoes
  • It’s like tinkering with the Titanic
  • Vanish like my pay check during tax season?
  • I felt completed, like a plant that has been watered
  • She was as stiff and unyielding as a lawn chair
  • She was like a cable stretched too tight and beginning to fray
  • As subtle as a gun
  • As much curiosity as a parsnip
  • Her voice implied sexual desire the way an alto sax implies jazz
  • as easy to read as a large print Tom Clancy novel
  • page looks like somebody put it into a blender and hit the Whip button.
  • The potential for disaster was enormous, like a family picnicking on the train tracks
  • Like a rabies shot
  • Winter morning was as bright as a hookers promise and warmer than her heart
  • Beaming like a full moon
  • As welcome as a fart in an elevator

Click here for 70 more collections of descriptions (like sounds, emotions, and headaches–my personal favorite).

Copyright ©2022 – All rights reserved.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Savage Land, Winter 2024.


256 thoughts on “51 Great Similes to Spark Imagination

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  10. How did they gain this skill set? For some reason this site takes about a minute to fully load on my friends laptop. Your blog brings me to a new place of understanding. How would you more effectively communicate this idea to a group that have an opposite point of view? I really enjoyed your write up. Your site seriously pumps me up!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. It’s really great to see you still creating great articles still. I’m following along with what you are saying. Anyone can tell that you write because you really love doing it. Thank you for finally talking about this! Do listen to your gut. Then back that up with some data and facts. I used your tips to my life and they worked really well for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The one that jumped out at me was “The potential for disaster was enormous, like a family picnicking on the train tracks.” Maybe it’s because I often feel like the lives so many of us are privileged to live (driving cars, flying on planes, and in general consuming way more than our fair share of natural resources here on planet earth) are like a family picnicking on train tracks… I also hadn’t realized that alliteration often is part of the power of a simile. Thank you for this thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is, isn’t it (the brick wall we’re speeding toward as we recklessly consume)? I’m appalled on garbage day to see how much is tossed out. Yikes! Our neighbors keep asking to use our spare trashcan space.

      Liked by 1 person

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  14. Look what I found! You and your post about similes. I’m working on my new novel, and the high school teacher (my main character) is explaining simile to her special ed students. So, I have this teacher thinking up similes in every chapter. It’s quite a challenge! I agree – they’re wonderful if they work, teeth clenching if they’re too far-fetched. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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  21. 5 – His hair soared in the wind like a captive egret, finally released into the wild. Not a minute had passed before a passerby made a joke about “if it was truly yours, it’ll come back to you…” He punched that person.

    That was funny!

    Liked by 2 people

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  23. Great site and information! I am posting a link to your site in my next newsletter, Tea and Empathy for Writers, and on my Barefoot Writing Academy facebook page.

    Liked by 1 person

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  29. As to the point as a “Uh, um, i can’t remember.what is it called. It was that one thing that is sharp and um pointy. Sort of “um! Oh yeah it was a porcupine. As to the point as a “um a porcupine

    Liked by 1 person

  30. “more beautiful than a bird dog on point” is my favorite on this list. i’m a long-time dog lover. Thank you for liking my post “The Energizer Bunny”. My mom is my best friend and my hero.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, another dog lover. That’s what got my attention, too. I have so many great lines about dogs.

      I love how much you love your mom. I’m very close to my two children and hope that when they’re your age, we still will be.


  31. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Most of those are good, but if you don’t know what they’re referring to, it makes no sense. I don’t know Tom Clancy’s work, a French handshake, or the French in Algeria; to name a few. There’s a lot that I find refreshingly different; a few of which are: the stretched cable, beaming like a full moon, and curious as a parsnip

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s true. It’s because they’re from the novels so they don’t makes sense out of context. Hopefully, the way the words are arranged and the color they carry is sufficient to stoke your creativity.


  32. Jacqui this is fabulous! my favourite is “like having someone else’s shadow”.
    Can you think of any similes to describe a vitriol filled German officer in the trenches of WWI?

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are some great novels of WWI. Since I can’t experience it first-hand, I’d probably read several of those fictional representations (like All Quiet on the Western Front), hopefully in my genre but not necessarily, and take notes on similes these authors use. When I get enough, it should kick-start my creativity for whatever scene I’m trying to describe.


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  37. Such a captivating list ^_^ thank you ever so much ~ would it be okay to ask for a couple of similes for anger or mistrust?? Again, thank you 🙂


  38. Hi, thanks for visiting. Ranching is the primary industry in my area and those hard working people have a way of getting to the point with few words. Some of theirs that come to mind are; “That hill was steep as a cow’s face and I was coming off it like a turpentined cat” or “I know that woman and she’s mean as cat manure.” Another one is”It was as dark as the inside of a cow.”

    Liked by 4 people

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  41. What does this simile mean. “Her eyes were as blue as the ink in my pen, that trickled its life’s blood gently down the front of my pocket, as I tried in vain to get her attention..”


  42. I want to do a description of a person like
    Her hair was as white as snow but I’m not sure what to do
    Her face is heart shape I need a simile or a metaphor for that
    Please help


    • Is hair color indicative of her life experience? ‘Her white hair reminded me of wisdom, culture…’ or is it just ‘white hair, perfect posture, an overbite’?

      Same with the face. Decide how you want to address them–as appearance or plot characteristics. Does that make sense?


  43. Just read a simile on a blog and googled it to see if it’s commonly used. That’s how I came across your post. “As flexible as the truth”. I think this is my favourite one so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Who would think weeds are interesting–but you make them so, Tim. One of my novels includes a lot of reference to using natural plants for healing so I’ll be trolling your site for ideas on that.


  44. I forget if I remember it any more, but I’ve always loved “The attention span of a flea”. Don’t remember who said it, or when, but it described my youngest child to the letter, so I fell as much in love with that as I am with him. My youngest brother came up with the opening line, which suits the occasion for both of us now.

    I am a new follower, and love your blog. I started reading when my older brother began first grade (no kindergarten back then) and I would do homework with him.

    Liked by 3 people

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    • It so depends upon your intent with that statement. I can think of a few–‘She’s as good as a Mobius Strip in the hands of a child’, ‘She’s as good as sticking your tongue in a fan’, She’s as good as the Sahara on a rainy Tuesday’.

      What’s your focus?


  48. How about these:
    -The sky was as black as the deep, dark, Dusty rooms of a torturous hell, in which pain and despair are delivered as fast as the postman delivers mail.
    -As useful as a lead bathing suit
    -He’s like a good book in the library; everyone wants to check him out.

    I thought of them in my English Literature class last week 🙂


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  50. Loved this – very entertaining, and reminded me so much of school, when I learned similes. I was fascinated by them and kept seeing them everywhere!

    Great collection here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can find my list of action-oriented eyes here (

      And here’s my list of eyes and their appearance:
      Ferret-like eyes
      Dark eyes smoldering
      Lined from squinting into too many suns
      Eyes were dark pools of fear
      looked like hell—purple bags under her eyes,
      eyes carried a mixture of shock and barely contained anger

      one eye clouded with a cataract
      wounded eyes

      tired eyes

      eyes were dark, cupped by fleshy pouches

      wire-rimmed glasses

      Slate-blue eyes
      Dark solemn eyes
      Spark in his grey eyes
      Huge blue eyes that gave her a startled look
      Black circles beneath her eyes had become bruises
      Wide-spread aquamarine eyes
      brown eyes wearing reading glasses
      Piercing stare
      Close set black eyes
      Watery blue eyes
      Memorable only for his bleak eyes
      Nets of wrinkles at the corners of her eyes
      Eyes flat as little pebbles
      Steely eyed
      long eyelashes
      laughing eyes
      predatory eyes
      Eyes were red-rimmed from allergies
      Under heavy lids; heavy-lidded
      Sensitive brown eyes
      Eyes sunk into his sockets
      Competitive, fixed, dead-eyed, and querulous stare of people who weren’t getting far enough fast enough
      I’ve-seen-it-all eyes
      bedroom eyes, dark hair falling into them
      Crows feet radiated from corners of eyes
      the light fades from his eyes until they are dark and empty
      eyes were brown in the middle and bloodshot everywhere else

      Does that help?

      Liked by 2 people

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