1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Metaphors, Similes, and Idioms

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Sep 11, 2016.

    I know there's countless resources out there for this kind of thing, but I'd like to get a discussion going here so that I can, once and for all, get myself clear on these techniques.

    If someone asked me to give an example of a simile, I hope I could do so, but if someone asked me what 'Clear as mud' was, I'd be less assured. From what little I understand it's a simile, but if I was then asked why I didn't consider it an idiom, I couldn't answer.

    And then there's metaphors, which I believe would be something such as The sun moved across the sky like an orange balloon floating across the water. Yes? No?

    So for starters I'll ask for some clarity on 'Clear as mud'. Is this an idiom or a simile. And more importantly why?
     
  2. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    From my hazy recollection of English lessons:

    Simile = a comparison using 'like' or 'as'. So both 'clear as mud' and 'the sun moved across the sky like an orange balloon floating across the water' would be similes.

    Metaphor = a way of describing something without making the kind of direct comparison a simile does. E.g. 'Every time John played the saxophone, somewhere a fairy died' is a metaphor for how badly John plays. Changing your second line to 'the sun was an orange balloon floating across the water' turns it into a metaphor.

    Idiom = a phrase that's known to mean something in a certain language or dialect, without necessarily being understandable by someone who doesn't already know what it means. Idioms can also be similes and metaphors, they're not mutually exclusive. 'It's raining cats and dogs' is an idiom - it's a phrase used by multiple people to say it's raining hard. If you didn't know that and someone just said it to you, you could be forgiven for thinking they were a tiny bit mad.

    'Clear as mud' is both a simile and an idiom. It's a simile because it uses 'as', it's an idiom because it's a common phrase. 'Clear as a brick wall' is a simile but not an idiom, because it's not a standard speech pattern, even though the comparison it's making is basically the same thing.

    Now we just have to wait until I'm corrected by someone smart enough to Google it, rather than rely on fuzzy memories :D
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well I could have googled them, of course, but I always think it's more useful to get a discussion going because you get multiple opinions rather than just one claiming to be some kind of authority.

    Mind you, I'm not sure multiple opinions is helpful :meh:

    Yours sound good to me, and I've already learned a thing or two.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with the hat.
     
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  5. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, but do you know what a dead metaphor is? lol
     
  6. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, are Dennis and Oz wrong here with their two examples of metaphors?

     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't catch all of it, but "bridges to build" is certainly a metaphor, assuming they aren't literally building bridges.

    If you want to transcribe the parts you're confused about, I'll take a look, but it'd take me half an hour of listening to the accent to get my ear acclimated, so it's faster for you to type.
     
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  8. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    :rofl: - it's okay. Everyone outside of Newcastle struggles with the Geordie accent!
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, I wasn't feeling bad about it. Did you want to transcribe the metaphors you were confused about?
     
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  10. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's not true, Jud. Most of us were forced to watch this at school:

     
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  11. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, in the first, Dennis asks Oz if he's being metaphorical (which I assume is the same thing) when Oz says "In a better place." to Dennis's question, "Where d'you see yourself?"
     
  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay - so he's asking because that could either be literal (no longer standing on a windy bridge) or metaphorical (his life more stable, happy, etc.).

    How do you see these not fitting with the framework @NigeTheHat laid out?
     
  13. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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  14. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a bit of a blindness to stuff like this. I read explanations and what I read makes sense, but they don't gel or stay with me.

    Meanwhile @Solar has gone Geordie mad.
     
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  15. Sack-a-Doo!
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    And just to illustrate how it differs based on language, in French the idiom for 'raining hard' translates to English as: raining nails.
     
  16. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol Jud.

    Just celebrating the rich culture of Tyneside.

     
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  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it's really important that a writer be able to keep the terms straight, unless the writer is taking/teaching elementary school English.

    You can use 'em without remembering how to label 'em.
     
  18. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    "Bob eats like a pig" is a simile "Bob's a pig" is a metaphor (unless bob is actually a pig, of course)
     
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  19. jannert
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    Actually ...they ARE building bridges—after taking it down first. It's been a long time since I saw the series ...loved watching this episode again.
     
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  20. Scot
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    The difference between a simile and an idiom is as clear as the difference between night and day, but not always. One man's idiom is another man's simile, which appears to be a metaphor.

    I've just confused myself. :confused:
     
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  21. OurJud
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    It is very good, but the next series in Cuba is even better. Although I did discover the other day that despite extensive negotiations between the BBC and Cuban, erm, authorities (??) they couldn't get permission to film there, so had to use the Dominican Republic. It's kind of taken the edge of my enjoyment knowing I'm not seeing the real Cuba.
     
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  22. jannert
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    I'll watch anything with Jimmy Nail in it, but I like the other guys as well. Just great stuff.
     
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  23. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let's say a person has been searching for another person. They eventually find them hiding out in some shack and say, "So this is where you've been hiding. I've been everywhere looking for you. I've been in more dosshouses than a tramp's vest."

    What is this? Is it any of the techniques in the thread title, or is it simply a gag/joke?

    Dosshouse = Flophouse.
    Tramp = Vagabound.
    Vest = Muscle shirt / sleeveless shirt

    Sorry for the translations - didn't want to sound patronising, but I couldn't think of a better example.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  24. NigeTheHat
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    According to Wikipedia, that's a simile. The definition I remembered was using 'like' or 'as', but apparently it's any direct comparison. So 'than', 'so' etc also count.
     
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  25. ChickenFreak
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    Where does "analogy" fit here? Is it a superset that metaphors and similes fit into? Or...?
     
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