7 Types of Analogy
John Spacey, updated on March 20, 2021
An analogy is a thought process or expression that transfers meaning from one subject to another. It is considered a basic cognitive process. For example, humans tend to understand a new thing but comparing it to a familiar thing.Analogies are commonly used to simplify complex or obscure ideas by drawing lines to simple and familiar concepts. In this capacity they may be used to make decisions, learn and solve problems. Analogies also have potential to make communication clear, memorable and persuasive. The following are common types of analogy:
MetaphorsSuggesting that two unrelated things are the same for rhetorical effect. The effect generated by a metaphor may provide clarity or be designed to persuade. Metaphors are also a common tool of humor and may be used to make language more colorful, interesting and memorable. Example: Time is a thief.
Dead MetaphorA dead metaphor is an overused metaphor that no longer generates much of an effect because it has become a figure of speech. Example: Falling in love.
Mixed MetaphorA mixed metaphor is a sentence that jams two metaphors together, often without completing both. Example: "If we can hit that bull's-eye then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards... Checkmate." ~ Zapp Brannigan, Futurama
AllegoriesAllegories are extended metaphors that keep their true subject secret. Commonly found in art, literature and film. The term allegory implies complexity and it's common for an entire book or series of books to be considered an allegory. Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
ComparisonsStraightforward comparisons can be considered an analogy if they are intended to transfer meaning from one thing to the next. Example: A heart is a pump.
SimilesA simile is like a metaphor except that it uses more explicit language to define the comparison such as the word "like." Example: That is like comparing apples and oranges.
ExemplificationSomething typical or representative of a class or type. That grass is more green than green.
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