Select Page

A Figure of Speech is a literary device used to create a special effect or feeling by making some type of interesting or creative comparison.

What follows are some samples of real students’ attempts at this. Each definitely create a special “effect or feeling”–though I don’t think it’s what the writer was shooting for.

These were not written by my students. But the collection reminded me that I should really be saving more student work.

It really doesn’t get much better than this:

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two
sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances
like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience,like
a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without
one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the
country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at
a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E.coli and he was
room-temperature Canadian beef.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog
makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated
because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a
surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way
a bowling ball wouldn’t.

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag
filled with vegetable soup.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an
eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another
city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m.instead of 7:30.

Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when
you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across
the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one
having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other
from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences
that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck,either,
but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on
a land mine or something.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was
the East River.

Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap,
only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil,
this plan just might work.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not
eating for a while.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds
who had also never met.

The ballerina raised gracefully en pointe and extended one
slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around
with power tools.

He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard
bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to
put in any pH cleanser.

She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple
it to the wall.

Update 1/30

I ran accross some more. This list includes the author’s names.

The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can. –Wayne Goode, Madison,AL

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met. –Russell Beland, Springfield

The thunder was ominous sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.-Barbara Fetherolf, Alexandria

The red brick wall was the color of a brick-red Crayola crayon.-Unknown

The door had been forced, as forced as the dialogue during the interview portion of “Jeopardy!” –Jean Sorensen, Herndon

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while. –Malcolm Fleschner, Arlington

Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined, like someone who can tell butter from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. –Barbara Collier, Garrett Park

It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before. –Marian Carlsson, Lexington

The knife was as sharp as the tone used by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) in her first several points of parliamentary procedure made to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the House Judiciary Committee hearings on the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton. –J. F. Knowles, Springfield

The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium. –Unknown

Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser. –Chuck Smith, Woodbridge

Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightened. –Sue Lin Chong, Washington