Similes – as…as… / like…

As…as… similes are easy to understand. If you see the phrase as dead as a doornail, you don’t need to know what a doornail is, simply that the whole phrase means ‘totally dead’. But, remember, fixed similes are not ‘neutral’; they are usually informal/colloquial and often humorous. So, use them with care, and keep them generally as part of your receptive vocabulary.

Creating a picture in your mind can often help you remember the simile:

Some can be remembered as pairs of opposites.

as heavy as lead = as light as a feather as drunk as a lord = as sober as a judge
as black as night = as white as snow

Some can be remembered by sound patterns.

As brown as a berry as good as gold as cool as a cucumber
Some other useful as…as… phrases.

– The bed was as hard as iron and I couldn’t sleep.
– I’ll give this plant some water. The soil’s as dry as a bone.
– He’s as mad as a hatter. He crossed the Atlantic in a bathtub.
– She told the teacher, as bold as brass, that his lessons were boring.
– You’ll have to speak up; he’s as deaf as a post.
– Don’t worry. Using the computer’s as easy as falling off a log.
– She knew the answer as quick as a flash.
– When I told him, his face went as red as a beetroot.
Sometimes the second part can change the meaning of the first.
– The Princess’s skin was as white as snow, [beautifully white]
– When he saw it, his face went as white as a sheet, [pale with fear/horror]
– The fish was bad and I was as sick as a dog. [vomiting]
– She ran off with my money; I felt as sick as a parrot, [bad feeling of disillusionment/frustration]


– My plan worked like a dream, and the problem was soon solved.
– Be careful the boss doesn’t see you; she has eyes like a hawk.
– No wonder he’s fat. He eats like a horse and drinks like a fish.
– Did you sleep well? Yes, thanks, like a log.
– Sorry, I forgot to ring him again. I’ve got a head like a sieve!
– The boss is like a bear with a sore head today. [in a very bad temper]
– She goes around like a bull in a china shop, [behaving in a very clumsy. insensitive way]
– Criticising the government in his presence is like a red rag to a bull. [certain to make him very angry]