Postby Thalassophilia on Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:14 pm

Dear Prof,

Are idioms such as working like a dog similes too?

Are the following expressions similes? flame-like bushes, elixir-like state of mind, and trickster-like magic of the world.

Thanks a universe.
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Re: simile

Postby prof on Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:58 pm

'Working like a dog' is certainly a simile. There is no reason why a simile cannot also be idiomatic, and many expressions are both similes and idioms. 'Flat as a pancake' or 'dead as a dodo' for instance.

However the construction of a simile requires that you put the subject, and then the thing to which it is being compared in that order. (For the comparison, we use 'as' after adjectives, and 'like' after verbs.) For example 'He slept like a log' pairs 'he' and 'a log', with 'like' after 'slept'.

Because 'a flame-like bush' does not use this construction, you have merely a compound adjective rather than a simile.
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