Difference Between Metaphor And Analogy (With Table)

Various literary devices are used to increase the reliability of written content. Metaphors and analogies have been in use since times immemorial due to their extensive variety and contextual importance. Though there are a lot of other such devices which enhance the beauty of literature, the connection between a metaphor and an analogy is unmatched. They are distinguished based on their scope and general terms employed.

Metaphor vs Analogy

The main difference between metaphor and an analogy is that the former relies on indirect comparisons while the latter relies only on direct comparisons. Their similarities fall short of such distinctions as the mode of expression is never taken in the same sense. One cannot create a single sentence with multiple usages of both these literary devices. They add a lot of weightage and thus make the reader delve deeper into the phrases.

A metaphor is a complex literary device that aims at comparing two similar objects without using any extra emphasizing terms. it can be used in poems and anecdotes alike. Metaphors are mostly considered short forms of other literary devices as the compactness of expression helps in maintaining the flow. It is best to compare a metaphor with a simile so that the extra terms are not left out. Metaphors do not need any new adjectives of any kind.

An analogy is a simple literary device that aims at comparing two completely different objects using comparative terms for adding emphasis. There is no restriction on the usage of bridging phrases or the terms which are commonly attributed only to similes. Once an analogy is created, the usage might vary based on the respective subject. Antithesis is quite similar to analogies but analogies cannot be created without some direct comparison.

Comparison Table Between Metaphor And Analogy

Parameters of Comparison MetaphorAnalogy
DefinitionSimple comparison by making use of replacement terms or other simple formsComparison of seemingly different objects, whether animate or inanimate
EtymologyIt is derived from the French word “metaphore” meaning “to transfer”It is derived from the Latin word “analogia” meaning “in proportion”
ExamplesHe was thunder when he droveHer eyes looked like a river
Words Used CommonlySynonyms and other jargonAmple use of comparative terms (like, as, etc)
Length of Poetic DeviceLess extensive versionElaborated to emphasize a particular point

What is Metaphor?

Metaphor is defined as a poetic device that makes use of indirect comparison. It is mostly used in place of a simile. Therefore, the use of the terms “like” and “as” is strictly prohibited. There is no contradiction between a metaphor and an analogy. They are two interconvertible forms of a thoughtful interpretation.

The most common uses include the comparison of human acts with that of natural phenomena. It might even go to the extent of exploring the unexplored dimensions of the universe using non-living objects as modes of comparison. Once a metaphor is employed in a sentence, the scope of other literary devices is limited due to the high-intensity interpretations attached to it.

Metaphors help in demonstrating a relationship between two terms that are not alike in any respect. This relationship may be existent or non-existent. The most essential feature of a metaphor is contextual clarity. It might either limit the possibility of adding more terms but the length of metaphorical sentences remains short, irrespective of the number of terms included. Two metaphors can be combined to increase the length.

What is Analogy?

An Analogy is defined as a poetic device that makes use of indirect comparisons. No words are negated while making such a comparison. On the contrary, analogies can even act as a bridge between a metaphor and a simile. As per the tone and the desired context, numerous analogies can be used in a single sentence.

The most common uses include the comparison of mythological figures with human attributes. Certain non-living beings are also regarded as capable of performing humanly or supernatural feats by use of apt analogies. The length of an analogy might vary based on the mode of comparison and the types of literary devices used thereafter.

Analogies help in comparing terms based on their matching characteristics or certain attributes which can be transposed upon each other. An analogy can sustain itself irrespective of any supportive arguments as the sense goes beyond general interpretations. An analogy doesn’t need to be limited to two terms only.

Main Differences Between Metaphor And Analogy

  1. A metaphor is comparison by replacing while analogy is comparison by using bridging terms.
  2. The term metaphor has been derived from “metaphore”, a French word which means “to transfer”. Meanwhile, the term analogy has been derived from the Latin word “analogia” which means “in proportion”.
  3. Common examples of metaphors include phrases like “she was fire when she spoke”. On the other hand, analogy is directed as “he ran like time”.
  4. A metaphor generally consists of only general words but an analogy makes use of “like”, “as”, and other similar terms.
  5. The length of a metaphor is lesser than that of an analogy. On the contrary, an analogy is one of the most elaborative literary devices.


Each poetic device has its own essence in literary works. They have evolved across years and new ones kept on adding up. The total count is unknown due to repetitions but metaphors and analogies surely form a part of the important ones. The differences have been developed after constant use as the poets focus only on the context with each passing sentence. In case a particular sentence makes use of metaphor and analogy at the same time, a distinction is hard to find.

A crucial difference is also based on the interpretation by intellectuals of a particular time. The contexts do not vary but gradual changes in the lexicon make it difficult for new age academicians to understand the specific usage. Still, metaphors, similes, and analogies are the most widely misunderstood terms. Above all, the world of literature is ruled by only a few but highly significant poetic devices.


  1. https://www.osapublishing.org/abstract.cfm?uri=ao-50-19-3375
  2. https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/2095050.2095073

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