Home  »  A Dictionary of Similes  »  Honoré de Balzac

Frank J. Wilstach, comp. A Dictionary of Similes. 1916.

Honoré de Balzac

Bare as the back of my hand.

Beautiful as a saint.

Beautiful as the day.

Bitter as chestnut husks.

Blushing like a wedding night.

Bold as a petty provincial attorney.

Cautious as a good housekeeper.

As clean as a Flemish interior.

Icy cold as a crypt.

Tears as cold as the stones on which sorrowing hearts had caused to be carved their regrets.

Contemptible as pebbles to an admirer of diamonds.

Coughed like a cow who finds feathers mixed with hay.

Every hard head has a crack in it somewhere, like a safety valve, as it were, for the steam.

As cross as a red donkey.

Crushed him as a timbrel cart crushes eggs.

Crushed like an egg-shell.

Cry of anguish that, like a pebble thrown over a precipice, revealed the depths of his despair.

Cunning as two Genoese.

As disheveled as any naturalist’s wig.

Napoleon … distributed himself about like the five loaves in the Gospel, commanded on the battlefield all day, and drew up his plans at night.

Docile as a lamb.

Dreary as an Asian steppe.

Drooping like a falling blossom.

Envy lurks at the bottom of the human heart, like a viper in its hole.

Erratic as electrical phenomena.

Exacting as a senior clerk.

Exasperated … like the huntsman’s first distant halloo to a stag.

His eyes, like those of a pitiless judge, seemed to go to the very bottom of all questions, to read all natures, all feelings and thoughts.

Burning eyes that blaze through a lace veil, like flame through cannon smoke.

Fickle as love.

Fidgety as an old maid.

Fists like shoulders of mutton.

Fit into his niche like a peg into a hole.

Fragile as a shade.

Fragrant as field-flowers.

Her face is as fresh as a frosty morning in Autumn.

Fresh as a white rosebud.

Fresh as dew.

Gently as to make no more noise than a spider attaching its thread.

A girl is like a flower fresh gathered; but a guilty woman is a flower trodden under foot.

Gleaming like a flash of lightning.

Good as gold.

Good as white bread and just as insipid.

Graceful as a black frigate with snow white sails.

Grand as thought.

Greed was like a slip-knot drawn more and more tightly about his heart, till reason at length was stifled.

Guileless and simple as a six-year-old child that has never left its mother.

Happy as a reprieved thief.

Hatred without a desire for vengeance is like a seed falling on stony ground.

Hold him, like an eagle that has seized an eaglet in his talons.

As much at home … as a fish in water.

Imperturbable as diplomatists.

Innocent as angels.

Innocent as a new-born babe.

Intangible as a shadow.

As keen for profit as a Polish Jew.

Keen as the torture of impending bankruptcy.

Lazy as a lobster.

Lie like a charlatan.

Lie like a political program.

A liquidation is something like a chemical process, from which the clever insolvent merchant endeavors to emerge as a saturated solution.

As pale and livid as any skull unearthed from a graveyard.

In love, a woman is like a lyre that surrenders its secrets only to the hand that knows how to touch its strings.

The wrongs of love, like the notes of a solvent debtor, bear interest.

The majority of men are like animals—they take fright and are reassured by trifles.

Mirthful as an undertaker’s mute.

Mischievous as a monkey.

A voice as mournful as the dying light in the west—for a vague reminder of Death is divinely set in the heavens, and the sun above gives the same warning that is given here on earth by the flowers and the bright insects of the day.

Mute as fishes.

Obdurate as a bailiff where his dues are concerned.

The damp oozed up through the thick brick floor like water through the sides of a Moorish jar.

Open-mouthed, like a crow at a walnut.

Orderly, like fresh veiled nuns.

Paris—like a pretty woman, has mysterious fits of ugliness or beauty.

Partings are like postscripts to a letter—indiscreet utterances that do as much mischief to the speaker as to those who overhear them.

Pensive as a sailor in a coach.

Pliant as a glove.

Pranced round it like a pair of cannibals about to eat a victim.

She was as pretty as the spring time.

In the long run it is with a profession as with marriage—we come to feel only the annoyances.

Punctual as a bride at a wedding.

As pure as the flame that burns upon an altar.

A puzzled look, like a foreigner trying to catch the meaning of words in a language he does not understand.

Quaking like an owl out in the sunshine.

Rare as a winter swallow.

Rigid as a sheet of metal.

Ruled as straight as a sheet of music-paper.

Rush … open-mouthed, like a crow at a walnut.

The blood rushed like a burning torrent through his veins.

Great men’s sayings are like silver gilt; use wears the gilt off the silver, and all the sparkle goes out of the sayings if they are repeated.

Secrets are like maidens: the closer they are kept locked up, the more certain they are to escape.

Serene as a star in a bright mist.

A sort of sigh, like the grunt of an overburdened St. Joseph.

Simple as a child.

Slender as a young poplar.

Society, like the Roman youth at the circus, never shows mercy to the fallen gladiator.

Solemn as a king on a five-franc piece.

Moved as solemnly as a dowager when she condescends to complete a quadrille at the close of a ball.

Stood spellbound, like a child to whom his nurse is telling some wonderful story.

Spiteful as a monkey.

Spreads … like the great voice of the sea.

Sprang to his feet like a startled roebuck.

Sprout like saplings on French soil.

Stood like some erring angel that had lost his radiance.

The stare, like that of a child who begins to see for the first time.

Stared in my face like a flash of light.

Stealthy as a cat.

Stirred her soul like organ music.

Stupid as a fact.

Sublime as the sky overhead.

Every suicide is like an awful poem of sorrow.

Supple as tobacco pouches.

Suspicious as a cat.

Swore like a Tartar.

Sweet as the joy which sorrow hushes.

Talent, like gout, sometimes skips two generations.

Men of talents are variable as thermometers: genius alone is essentially good.

Tell-tale as a register of birth.

A theatre, unfortunately, is like a stage-coach: empty or full, it starts at the same time.

His poor body is as thin as a nail.

Trackless as a sound.

Moral truths, like human beings, change their aspect according to their surroundings, to the point of being unrecognizable.

Twisted like a house that has been enveloped and carried away by a waterspout.

Unseeing stare, like that of a child who begins to see for the first time.

Vanished like the furrow cut by a ship’s keel in the sea.

Vanity acts like a woman—they both think they lose something when love or praise is accorded to another.

In France, political principles are as varied as a restaurant bill of fare.

Vibrate like a soft musical note.

Vulgar as the face of Commerce.

She walked with a proud, defiant step, like a martyr to the Coliseum.

White as porcelain.

Wit kills the soul, as argument kills reason.

Most women proceed like the flea,—by leaps and jumps.

She was as yellow as a quince.