The Magic of Metaphor.

 A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly refers to one thing by mentioning another for rhetorical effect. It may provide clarity or identify hidden similarities between two ideas.

By comparing two things, that are often not alike, you help "transfer" meaning to the listener. The origin of metaphor is from the Greek "metaphora" meaning "transfer".

Photo credit: Almos Bechtold

Photo credit: Almos Bechtold

Why use metaphor?

  1. Metaphors can help an audience understand something by linking it to something they already know.
  2. Metaphors contain an element of surprise. They catch the audience’s attention and are usually easy to remember.
  3. Metaphor takes ordinary language and gives it a refreshing new perspective, causing listeners to think more deeply and find more meaning in your words.

What is a simile?

Simile is similar to metaphor in that it compares two things, but it must contain “like” or “as”; e.g., as hungry as a bear; as sly as a fox; fight like cats and dogs; eat like a pig.

The simile sets two ideas side by side; in the metaphor, they become superimposed.
— F.L. Lucas from his book "Style"

For  example: The Entertainer from Peter Aguero:

He looked like a bull dog on steroids. (simile)

He was a spark plug of a guy. (metaphor)


For another example, "Under the Influence" from Jeffery Rudell:

The sheer weight of it threatened to crush me, or at least that's how it felt. Since it was my constant companion, I spent most of my time turning it over in my mind, fingering it like some sort of psychological worry stone. Over the years it's been eroded by so much handling. All that remains now is a small, hard, nearly weightless pebble, really. Worn away is most of the anger and much of the hurt, yet one question remains: how is it my parents taught me love and loyalty in excess of they, themselves, possessed?

The narrator, whose parents disown him because he is homosexual, tries to convey to the reader the pain and confusion this has caused him. He uses the metaphor (or image) of a stone.