Article about Similes - Reading Comprehension

Read below article then answer the questions.


Similes are expressions which are used to compare one thing with another. They are used to show that they are similar and use the word ‘like’ or ‘as’ to show this. For example, Lord Byron’s poem ‘She walks in beauty like the night’ uses this simile. The problem with this and other similes, however, is that they are almost never accurate. In the case above, it may be very poetic and romantic to describe a woman’s beauty in this way but the truth is that the night does not walk and whether the night is beautiful depends on your perspective, situation and mood. For instance, the night might be terrifying and not beautiful if you are alone in the jungle where man eating tigers are prowling looking for their prey. Tigers, by the way, like to hunt at night.

There are many other similes that are also inappropriate. For example, we often use the expression he’s ‘strong as an ox’ to describe that a person is very strong. It is true the ox is a very strong animal but compared to its size there are other animals which are much stronger. An ox can lift 3 times its own weight and human weight lifters can lift twice their body weight. This simile is actually fair but if we wanted to use an animal in a simile which is extremely strong we ought to point to the ant. The ant can lift objects 50 times its own weight so shouldn’t we say ‘he’s as strong as an ant’?

We have often heard people say a person is ‘as fast as a jack rabbit’ and it used is situations such as “The Cleveland Browns quarterback ran like jack rabbit to score the winning touchdown.” A jack rabbit can run 20 mph, which is pretty fast, but an elephant can run 25 mph. Shouldn’t we say the quarterback ran as fast as an elephant? But this simile is never used.  A simile which is used for elephants is ‘he is as clumsy as an elephant’. This is dead wrong because elephants not only very quick but they are also very graceful. They can move very quietly through the jungle and stand on barrel without damaging it.

Other similes that are misleading are ‘shiny as a pin’ (pins are rarely shiny and some pins are dark in colour),  ‘happy as a clam’ (no one knows how clams feel), ‘runs like the wind’ (the wind doesn’t have legs so it can’t run), ‘bold as brass’ (brass is a metal so it is impossible for a metal to have any kind of feelings whatsoever) and ‘drunk as a skunk’ (skunks to not drink alcohol so they can never get drunk). So, shouldn’t we revise our use of similes and come up with different ones that are more accurate?