This post contains more than 100 examples of metaphors in the form of sentences. To get the most of these examples, notice how unlike the two things being compared are (that’s the crux in writing good metaphors) and how the two things can be simplified to ‘one thing is another thing’ from example # 48 onwards.
Note: The unlike thing being compared to, also called vehicle, has been underlined in all the examples for ease of following. Second, comments that go with examples are in square brackets.
More resources on metaphor:
- Learn writing explicit and implied metaphors, with categorizations like in this post
- Are you looking at simpler metaphor examples? Look at metaphor examples for kids, with easy explanation
- Since the three are similar to each other, learn what’s the difference between metaphor, simile, and analogy?
1. Examples of explicit metaphors
In explicit metaphors, both the things being compared are clearly mentioned, and we don’t need to infer anything. Here, you’ll see examples of explicit metaphors with and without be verbs.
1.1 Explicit metaphors with ‘be’ verb
1. What Emma Raducanu did at 2021 US Open (tennis) by winning women’s singles title as an unseeded player is what people in Kenya do by stealing meat from, hold your breath, a pride of lion. Both look impossible but nonetheless pulled off.
2. The financial measures announced by the government to blunt the effect of Covid were darts thrown to kill a T-rex.
3. Regular pay every month and other perks are golden handcuffs that keep people tied to their jobs despite their dislike for the job.
4. Amazon is a 1000-pound gorilla in retail.
5. During the moments before the result was declared, I was a tax payer who had just received an audit notice from the IRA: extremely nervous. [Comment: Some metaphors need explanation. Here, extremely nervous was required to make the comparison clear.]
6. Compared to the stupendous return on Tesla share, return from all other investments was a financial gravy.
7. My grandfather is a hyena despite his age, for he can crack open walnut shells with his teeth.
8. My loans are a millstone around my neck, keeping me tied to my 9-to-5 job.
9. He was a sphinx during the trial: stone-faced and quiet.
10. Political power is hell of a drug. Its withdrawal can be painful.
11. How motivated are you to pursue your goal? Is it an itch or a burn?
12. Money is paper soaked in kerosene. It burns faster than you think.
13. Is that feature in your product a dinosaur, or is it still relevant?
14. You are tadpoles on your way to build a company of note.
15. Showbiz is not an easy industry to navigate. It’s a river full of monsters.
16. My night shift is a graveyard: not a soul in sight, complete silence, and an occasional howl from the street dogs.
17. Journalism is literature in hurry. Matthew Arnold
18. Life is a sum of all your choices. Albert Camus
19. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. Ralph Waldo Emerson
20. The chess-board is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. Thomas H. Huxley
21. A business without advertisements is blinking at someone in the dark. You know what you’re doing but others don’t. Steuart Henderson Britt
22. We are all but sailboats on the river of life, and money is the wind. With enough money, you can get blown anywhere. Dennis Miller
23. Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it. Albert Smith
24. Fame is a pearl many dive for and only a few bring up. Louisa May Alcott
25. Justice is truth in action. Benjamin Disraeli
26. All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players. Shakespeare
27. The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast. Oscar Wilde
28. Love letters are the campaign promises of the heart. Robert Friedman
29. For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest. The Talmud
30. Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind. Robert G. Ingersoll
31. Everybody knows politics is a contact sport. Barack Obama
32. Wine is bottled poetry. Robert Louis Stevenson
33. Poverty is the mother of crime. Marcus Aurelius
34. Remember, you are just an extra in everyone else’s play. Franklin D Roosevelt
35. Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Victor Borge
36. Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects. Arnold H. Glasgow
37. Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood. Mary Hirsch [Without explanation, meaning won’t be clear.]
38. Experience: a comb life gives you after you lose your hair. Judith Stern
39. Every person’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of that person. Samuel Butler
40. Our acts make or mar us; we are the children of our own deeds. Victor Hugo
41. An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything. Lynn Johnston
42. It has been said that a pretty face is like a passport. But it’s not; it’s a visa, and it runs out fast. Julie Burchill [This contains a simile as well as a metaphor.]
43. Boxing is just show business with blood. Frank Bruno
44. Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Rudyard Kipling
Explicit metaphors in appositive form are essentially an offshoot of be-verb pattern. Few examples:
45. Jonah Lomu, a rampaging bull with the ball, is widely recognized as one of the greatest of the game. [Jonah Lomu is a rampaging bull with the ball.]
46. As we trekked up, the landscape gradually gave way to a field of dandelion flowers, a yellowish velvet carpet merging into the horizon.
47. Rafael Nadal, a wall on clay courts, has won an unthinkable thirteen French Open singles titles.
1.2 Explicit metaphors without ‘be’ verbs
All metaphors can be simplified to ‘one thing is another thing’, where the two things are unlike. In the examples that follow, the two unlike things have been written in simplified form in brackets so that you can follow them easily.
48. The plague of war and destruction has afflicted the country for decades, keeping significant proportion of its population below poverty. [War and destruction are plague.]
49. His fortress of a house was finally breached by the intelligence agencies. [The house is a fortress.]
50. The anthill of a colony was teaming with people. [The colony is an anthill.]
51. The train wreck of an Olympic campaign ended in another defeat. [The Olympic campaign was a train wreck.]
52. Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber. Shakespeare in Julius Caesar [Slumber is honey-heavy dew.]
53. The town was covered by a thick blanket of snow. [Snow is a thick blanket.]
54. When we finally got a meal after nearly 30 hours, we became a pack of ravenous dogs who suddenly saw meat. [We are a pack of ravenous dogs who suddenly saw meat.]
55. The campaign proved to be Titanic: grand but doomed. [The campaign was Titanic.]
56. Media has become the judge, jury, and witness in this case, proving the accused guilty before judicial trial could even begin. [Media is the judge, jury, and witness in this case.]
57. Television news has become a propaganda machine, used brilliantly by few to further selfish interests. [Television news is a propaganda machine.]
58. Greg turns into a pig when he sees food. [Greg is a pig.]
59. A stint at Unilever used to be a gateway to leadership position in consumer goods industry. [A stint at Unilever was a gateway to leadership position in consumer goods industry.]
60. Initially we thought Covid would be short-lived, but then we realized an ice age is setting in. [The period Covid will last is how long ice age lasted.]
61. “You made me a guinea pig to test your theories,” accused the son. [The son was a guinea pig.]
62. When angry, he has the face of a kettle hissing steam. [His face is a kettle hissing steam.]
63. You’ve the memory of a wild elephant. [Your memory is the memory of a wild elephant.]
64. Some people call economy class in airplane as cattle class. [Economy class is cattle class.]
65. Since 2005, the best clay-court players (tennis) would often win their clay-court matches comfortably till they ran into a mountain named Nadal. [Nadal is a mountain. We could’ve used an appositive as well here.]
66. Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof. James Russell Lowell [Compromise is a good umbrella, but is a poor roof.]
67. Global warming might be a fever that earth is running in an attempt to ward off a deadly infection known as homo sapiens. Rick Bayan [Global warming is a fever that earth is running.]
68. Her singing reminds me of a cart coming downhill with the brake on. Thomas Beecham [Her singing is the sound of cart coming downhill with the brake on.]
2. Examples of implied metaphors
In implied metaphors, only one of the two things being compared is clearly mentioned; the other thing needs to be inferred from the specific words in the sentence. In the examples below, the inferred thing is mentioned in the bracket, with the first two in detail and the rest in brief.
In implied metaphors, often a single word suggests comparison of two unlike things. Such words can be verbs, adjectives, or nouns. Examples of each follow.
2.1 Verbs expressing implied metaphors
69. The CEO green-lighted my proposal. [This is equivalent to: The CEO is a traffic light that green-lighted my proposal. Does it look familiar with the be verb now?]
70. The volcano burped ash and rocks, signaling that more is to come. [This is equivalent to: The volcano is a person who burped ash and rocks, signaling that more is to come.]
71. Uber has bled money in several markets in its battle to gain market share. [Uber is a living thing.]
72. Few pegs of whiskey washed all my pain. [Whiskey is a wave.]
73. I scavenged the data for my research paper from multiple sources. [I am a scavenger.]
74. John barrelled through the defence and fired the much-needed goal. [John is a hurricane or a super-fast train.]
75. The journalists swooped in as the famed actor emerged from the airport. [The journalists are a bird like eagle.]
76. The commander bellowed instructions to men who joined the night shift. [The commander is a bull.]
77. The travel industry haemorrhaged millions of jobs because of precipitous fall in travel during Covid time. [Travel industry is a blood vessel or a person.]
78. The fire devoured more than a dozen tents in no time. [The fire is a hungry person.]
79. The company flew too close to the sun and eventually shuttered. [The company is Greek mythological character Icarus.]
80. After decades of war, poverty and disease stalked the country. [Poverty and disease are a person or an animal.]
81. Covid flattened economies across the world. [Covid is a storm or an earthquake.]
82. The warrior swatted the enemies. [Enemies are flies.]
83. With that move, the chess player smothered his opponent’s chance of escaping with a draw. [The chess player was a killer.]
84. John erupted on seeing the shoddy work. [John is a volcano.]
85. In runup to any election, trolls on social media wage war on their political opponents. [Social media is a battlefield.]
86. He drowned in love. [Love is ocean]
2.2 Adjectives expressing implied metaphors
87. Show me that 1,000-watt smile. [Smile is a 1,000-watt bulb.]
88. Her silken hair continues to launch haircare products to this day. [Hair is silk.]
89. His bruised ego will take time to recover. [Ego is a body part.]
90. You can’t expect a muzzled media to report fairly. [Media is an animal.]
91. The commentator, in his forensic analysis of the game, called the player just a bits-and-pieces player. [Analysis of the game is scientific analysis of a crime.]
92. John’s encyclopedic memory won him several prizes in quiz competitions. [Memory is encyclopedia.]
93. His fertile mind comes up with really innovative ideas. [Mind is land.]
94. The gladiatorial contest for the prestigious election left a trail of acrimony and violence. [The contest is a fight between gladiators.]
95. Everyone in the office is wary of the manager’s volcanic temper. [Temper is volcano.]
2.3 Nouns expressing implied metaphors
96. After the sunset, you’ll find anti-social elements on the prowl, looking for their next target. [Anti-social elements are wild animals.]
97. John Isner serves bullets which gives him plenty of free points. [John Isner is a gun.]
98. I had a front row seat at Toyota, observing some outstanding leaders there. [Toyota is an amphitheatre.]
99. The company had a black eye while trying to defend its dubious track record on user privacy. [The company is a person.]
100. He has ice in his veins. [His veins are ice tubes.]
101. You’re sitting on a goldmine. [The thing (say antique items) you’re sitting on is goldmine.]
102. On seeing his owner after two days, the dog broke into a dance. [The dog is a human.]
103. Global events triggered a bloodbath in the Asian stock markets. [Asian stock markets were a battle field.]
104. In the midnight raid on the refrigerator, we polished off the cake. [We were commandos or raiders.]
105. The incident caused an internet firestorm. [The incident was a spark.]
106. The payment page on the website asks for all the details, including email id, every time I make a payment. The website seems to be from Jurassic era. [The website is a pre-historic creature.]
107. There was buzz among the participants during the tea break. [The participants were bees.]
108. If you’re lost in this jungle, even Google won’t be able to find you. [Google is a person or a search party.]