1. A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

  2. A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else.

For example:

Phil is a lion . (apparently Phil sleeps for 15 to 18 hours a day and is very brave when awake)


  1. A comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.

  2. A thing which is comparable to something else in significant respects.

For example:

Life is a race. The one who keeps running wins the race and the one who stops to catch a breath loses.

My research for the difference between "metaphor" and "analogy" yielded this:

Metaphors and similes are tools used to draw an analogy. Therefore, analogy is more extensive and elaborate than either a simile or a metaphor.

However, this is not very helpful in concluding on the differences between them. (Is it different? Can something be a metaphor and not an analogy or vice-versa ?)

So, my question is, what is the distinct difference between "metaphor" and "analogy"?


We have these words as they are used by specialists in literature and semiotics and as they are used by the general public.

As used by the general public, a metaphor is a way of speaking about something indirectly by speaking of it as something else with which it has something important in common.

Many metaphors are so often used that they become hackneyed "figures of speech".

It was a tough slog, but we finally got the new system up and running.

The effort to install a system does not involve any sort of arduous walk through difficult terrain, but "tough slog" has come to mean "hard work".

He's a budget hawk.

He keeps a very sharp eye on the budget. He notices even the slightest budget overrun. Hawks can detect subtle movements in the grass a long way off, which tell them where their prey are.

She was his rock, and he was her ticket out of town.

She is emotionally stable and a reliable friend in times of stress and trouble; he presented the opportunity for her to leave that place and start a fresh life elsewhere.

Some people make a distinction between similes and metaphors, and in certain contexts the distinction is an important one, but in others, not:

He watches the budget like a hawk.

She was like a rock for him.

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