What Is Analogy?

(View all literary devices)

An analogy is a comparison between two things, usually with the goal of making the less known or more obscure thing clear. Take, for instance, the statement, “A cobra is to a mongoose as a mouse is to a cat.” Not everyone knows that mongooses are ruthless predators of cobras, but they do know that cats hunt mice. The analogy is a simple but effective teaching tool.

The analogy has been around since the Classical Era and is important in all fields of study. They are so integral to high-level cognitive development that the SAT exam devotes a whole section to analogy.

As a literary device, analogy helps readers visualize concepts and make connections between things they would not otherwise think of as similar. The connection builds further associations that enhance the meaning of the work.

How Do You Identify Analogy in Writing?

Many literary devices are analogies:

  • Similes, comparisons using “like” or “as.”
  • Metaphors, direct comparisons of two seemingly unlike things.
  • Parables, short tales that convey a principle or lesson.
  • Allegories, or stories in which the characters and plot convey the moral truth.

Examples of Analogy

Analogy Example 1. My experience with the cable company is like a toxic relationship — I keep calling and yelling at them for providing bad service, and they never come over when they say they will.

Analogy Example 2. The boys were a thundering herd of bison.

Analogy Example 3. “She walks in beauty, like the night/Of cloudless climes and starry skies;” — George Gordon Byron, “She Walks in Beauty”

Analogy Example 4. “Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night,/Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.” — Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 

Analogy Example 5. Walt Whitman’s poem “Crossing Brooklyn Fever” is one long analogy expressing the idea that all generations of Americans are linked by a common heritage, common feelings, and a common experience.

Analogy Example 6. Life is a mortal coil.