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February 27, 2006

Defining Our Own Terms: Teaching is a Metaphor, Learning is Like a Simile

English Students,

We’ve discussed previously the concepts of metaphor and simile. Both compare different ideas and draw connections, thus offering a new perspective or interpretive definition. But, what’s the difference between them?

Here's some help:

Simile - A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as, as in “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get" - Forrest Gump (or) "My love is like a red, red rose" — Robert Burns
Metaphor – The metaphor is similar to the simile, but doesn't say that one thing is like another thing. A metaphor says one thing IS another thing! For example, “Life is a process of becoming . . ." - Anaïs Nin (or) "No man is an island" —John Donne

. . . Can you determine which of the examples below are metaphors and which are similes?

“You are like a breath of fresh air!”
“You are the sunshine of my life . . .” ~ Stevie Wonder
“Life is a carnival . . .” ~ Caravan
Men are pigs.
He eats like a pig.

Today, I want you to define a word by using a your own metaphor or simile.

1. Complete one of the following sentences in your journal.
Love is / is like…
Home is / like…
I am a / like a…
A friend is / like…

2. State whether your “symbol” is a metaphor or a simile.

3. Explain your metaphor, e.g. “Life is a process because it is constantly changing and seems to move in steps. It is life a series of steps between birth and death . . .”

After you've done so, clean up your writing, type and post in the comment box below before the next class. Anyone else may feel free to participate! And remember . . .

Until next time,


*To read other essays/articles on this blog that deal with either the origins, meanings, or subtleties of words in the English language, please click HERE!

Posted by lhobbs at February 27, 2006 01:27 PM

Readers' Comments:

Professor Hobbs,

The simile I made up is "Home is like a breath of fresh air." This is because every time I go home I am comfortable and can relax with my family. There is no stress of classes or work on my mind when I am home. A breath of fresh air describes this perfectly. Fresh air clears your mind and body making you feel good.

Thoryn S.

Posted by: Thoryn S. at February 27, 2006 04:08 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Home is like a huge bear hug. I am using a simile to describe how home feels. I am stating that home is like a huge bear hug, because a "bear hug" can be extremely comforting, however at times, also suffocating. While we enjoy the comforts of home, sometimes we just need to get out before we suffocate. We need to go see the world, but can always come home to feel that sense of belonging and warmth that a bear hug also gives.

Kelsey L.

Posted by: Kelsey L. at February 27, 2006 04:10 PM

Professor Hobbs
Love is like the weather because it is unpredictable and you’re never guaranteed that it will last. Just like the weather, everyone wants it to be pleasant at all times but it is always liable to change. When you find good love as well as good weather, you want it to last forever and ever.

Adrianne E

Posted by: Adrianne E at February 27, 2006 10:46 PM

Professor Hobbs

A friend is like family. This simile means that a true friend is close to your heart like family is. They are always there for you and you are always there for them. You love them even when you are mad at them, and they do the same. I consider my true close friends to be like my family.

C. Robinson

Posted by: Cathy at February 28, 2006 02:17 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Love is the feeling you get when you are around someone that has the missing piece to your heart, because it is like the air that you breath it keep you alive without it you will die.

I choice this statement which I made a simile because it makes you see how necessary love is and without the feeling of love you will not function exactly like you would if you felt love. Without air you will not be able to function properly either. Both of these things are needed to be able to live. Love doesn't mean boyfriend, girlfriend all the time. It could be the love of a friend, a parent, a relative, someone in family. It could be a boyfriend or a girlfriend not saying it can't, but there is more then one meaning of love. Love is a necessary part of life. Without it, you will be miserable and you will not be whole. This is what I get from this simile I formed.

Jennifer Giuliani

Posted by: Jennifer G at February 28, 2006 02:46 PM

Professor Hobbs,

I am a snowflake. I am unique and different from all other snowflakes that fall from the sky. I live my life as a separate being. Eventually I will fall. I will become a part of a whole, together with the rest of the snowflakes. When we fall we will cover the ground.

Ali L.

Posted by: Ali L. at February 28, 2006 04:03 PM

Professor Hobbs,

The simile that i amde up is: love is like parents you just cant get enough of it.

Like the love from your parents is alot coming from them because you dont get the samew love that you get from nobody else.

sincerely, Robert Bell-Sheppard

Posted by: Robert Bell-SHeppard at February 28, 2006 04:31 PM

Love is like a roller coaster, always up and down. The reason why love can be like a roller coaster is because some days are good and some day are bad between you and your spouse. You can never tell what the day is going to bring between the two of you. Some days you guys will have great days together and have some much fun but on the other hand some days could end up fighting. Love is always going to be up and down unless you and you other half is perfect.

Posted by: LIz Larry at February 28, 2006 09:05 PM

Professor Hobbs,

A friend is like a map. My symbol is a simile. A friend is a like a map, because he or she clearly points you in the write direction. He or she is close by when you need them, and they are very helpful. Friends get you to your destination whatever it may be.

Kashiff Miles

Posted by: Kashiff M. at February 28, 2006 09:43 PM

Professor Hobbs,

"Love is like a rollercoaster"
This is a simile.

I feel that this quote gives the impression that love is full of good times and bad. The hills on a rollercoaster represent the ups and downs of relationships. The ups symbolize happy things that have happened between people and their significant others. The downs represent the disagreements or hard times the relationship may encounter. Although, a person can also see the downs indicating the butterflies people get in their stomachs every time they see the one they love.

Angela Hart

Posted by: Angela H. at February 28, 2006 09:49 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Love is like a leaf falling to the ground. It is true love if it never hits the ground.

With love being like a leaf, it is like a new experience. When the leaf falls off the tree it faces the wind and the sun. It faces new elements and challenges as it falls. No one in love wants to get hurt. That’s why it is true love when someone you love or someone who loves you never lets you fall and hit the ground. But sometimes if you hit the ground, it is like being part of a whole different tree. You get another chance to let someone else catch the leaf.

Posted by: Kelly J at February 28, 2006 10:36 PM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

Love is like drug.
(a simile)
I used the comparison of love to drug because they both get you to a point where you are addicted and under an influence not like your normal self.

Posted by: P.Beckles at March 1, 2006 10:37 AM

Professor Hobbs

Home is a like squirrels nest, alone and safe from danger. This statement is a simile because of the is like. When you are home, it is a place that you are familiar with. You know what to expect and you can always count on your family to be there. You can have this safe home feeling whether you are literally home or with a group of friends. Squirrels nests are built high in the trees away from danger. Many squirrels nest together as a family, collecting food for each other to endure the winter season. When you are home everyone works together to help for survival. You can always count on your family and friends. And when you have this satisfaction, you know you are home.

Samantha V.

Posted by: Samantha V. at March 1, 2006 12:34 PM

Professor Hobbs,

Love is life and life is love, because life is often (if not always) about people, connections, bonds, and relationships, between people, hobbies, ideas and beliefs. Sometimes the most important aspects of life are the things we love; life is all about what we love and what we seek, and what we seek is often what we love!

Sean O.

Posted by: Sean O. at March 1, 2006 01:09 PM

Hello Professor Hobbs,

A friend is like a jetty in the ocean. They are built from the land for a stability purpose. Some enjoy them for recreational reasons, some for a moment to reflect, and some, such as animals, even need them to survive. A jetty can weather a rough and windy ocean day as well as stand strong through harsh, crashing waves. A true friend is always there for you. They'll have fun with you, but also be a sense of stability in your life. Once you have found a true friend, they will weather any storm and stand strong through anything for you.

Posted by: Missy Z at March 1, 2006 01:31 PM


My simile is "Love is like an open highway, it turns your heart into roadkill."

Love is like an open highway because love can be found by opening up one's heart. The path of love may be different for everyone, but eventually all paths lead to love. But sometimes, love can be very hurtful, and in some instances, your heart gets "run over". Therefore, love can turn one's heart into roadkill.

Posted by: Terrell W. at March 1, 2006 02:02 PM

Hi Lee,

You are so right, metaphors and similes are powerful indicators of the way we think. In terms of learning styles, a visual thinker might use pictures (my love is like a red, red rose); aural thinkers might hear sound (the sea washing over shingle, the wind in the trees). I think the message is that language is a palette rather than a science.

But, as educators, we should also be clear about the mechanics. A simile requires the comparison of two objects or actions. "Stupid is as stupid does" implies no comparison; it is simply an idiom defining stupidity: you are stupid, you are do stupid things. A simile would be "as stupid as an ass".Let's not confuse our terminology. We are the experts, aren't we?

Posted by: btownsend at March 2, 2006 02:37 PM

Note from Lee:

Dr. Townsend,

You are quite corrrect, thank you for pointing that out that clarification.

Posted by: Lee at March 2, 2006 02:47 PM

7 April 2006

Professor Hobbs,

I decided to write a little poem for this assignment I hope you like it:

Love is like a falling stone
Until it reaches a place it can call it’s own.
And if it lands on steady ground;
That’s something it can build its life around,
But if the stone should cause the ground to quake
Further and further the stone will fall into heartbreak.

My symbol is a simile because I used like. I’m basically saying that we are all thrown into this thing called love and we don’t know what it means. Some of us find it where we land and others think they have, only to realize later that they had no idea what it means.

Sam H.

Posted by: Sam H. at April 7, 2006 12:32 PM

Professor Hobbs:

Love is like a rain shower on a sunny day. This simile means that no matter how nice and sunny the day is, it can be ruined by a little bit of rain. It's kind of annoying, yet it's sort of nice at the same time. The rain shower is refreshing, and the smell of it in the spring time is invigorating. At the end of a rain shower on a sunny day, you get a rainbow. This is what love feels like. You go through good times and bad times, but at the end of the day, everything's okay.

Linda M.

Posted by: Linda M. at April 23, 2006 11:20 PM

Dear Professor Hobbs,

One of the most famous quotes is from Forrest Gump. "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one your gunna get." A similie I came up with for this assignment is "Love is like a shot, it hurts sometimes but in the end it can make everything all better." There is no doubt that shots hurt, yet there is no doubt that love hurts. Love isn't always great but once you find the right love, it makes it all worth it. Just like a shot, once you get the medicine in you, it is worth the pain because you are no longer ill.

Brendan Wayne Lockard

Posted by: Brendan at April 27, 2006 09:39 PM

Dear Prof. Hobbs,

A friend is like medicine, good for you but not always good to you. This statement that I have made is a metaphor. What I meant by it is that medicine is somehting that is proven to be good for you. But that doesn't endure that every dose will be good to you or enjoyable. Nonetheless it is still a healing proponent, it just may not be very tasty. The same is as a friend. A friend is good for you but that doesn't mean that you enjoy every living second with them.

Posted by: Holden B. Jones at May 6, 2006 04:39 PM

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