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

Jonathan Swift

Covered as thick as a pastry-cook’s shop on a Christmas-eve.

Advanced, like Atalanta’s star,
But rarely seen, and seen from far.

Bare, like a carcass picked by crows.

Beauty, like supreme dominion,
Is best supported by opinion.

Books, like men their authors, have no more than one way of coming into the world, but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no more.

Boundless as the wind.

Breeds like a rabbit.

Bright as an angel.

Brisk as a body louse.

Cheap as neck-beef.

Bad company is like a dog that dirts those most he loves the best.

The eye of the critic is often, like a microscope, made so very fine and nice that it discovers the atoms, grains, and minutest particles, without ever comprehending the whole, comparing the parts, or seeing at once the harmony.

A true critic, in the perusal of a book, is like a dog at a feast, whose thoughts and stomach are wholly set upon what the guests fling away, and consequently is apt to snarl most when there are fewest bones.

Fleeting as air.

Fly as if the devil drove.

Flown as flies the blown foam’s feather.

Fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.

Fly away as a dream.

Fortune, like other drabs, values a man gradually less for every year he lives.

Fresh as farthing from the mint.

Like the laborers of Babel.

Gaping like a stuck pig.

Languid, like a lovesick maid.

Lead thee, as a staff directs the blind.

The vanity of human life is like a river, constantly passing away, and yet constantly coming on.

Love as the devil loves holy water.

It is in men as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold which the owner knows not of.

Married people, for being so closely united, are but the apter to part: as knots, the harder they are pulled, break the sooner.

Maxims … have the same use with the burning-glass; to collect the diffused rays of wit and learning in authors, and make them point with warmth and quickness upon the reader’s imagination.

Merry as an ape.

As naked as their mothers bore them.

Neglected, as the moon by day.

Nimble as a hare.

Opinions, like fashions, always descend from those of quality to the middle sort; and thence to the vulgar, where they are dropped and vanish.

It is with narrow soul’d people as with narrow necked bottles, the less they have in them the more noise they make in pouring it out.

Praise is like ambergris; a little whiff of it, and by snatches, is very agreeable; but when a man holds a great lump of it to his nose, it is a stink and strikes down.

Pun … where a word, like the tongue of a jackdaw, speaks twice as much by being split.

Rude as a bear.

Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.

Scold and rail
Like porters o’er a pot of ale.

Sharp as … oyster strumpet.

Shut like a purse.

Silent as a politician.

Soft as pap.

Softer than the dawn.

Staring like a stuck pig.

It is with states as with clocks, which must have some dead weight hanging at them to help and regulate the motion of the finer and more useful parts.

Strange … like a fine lady swapping her moles for the mange.

Tall as a May-pole.

White as a custard.

Some men’s wit is like a dark lantern, which serves their own turn and guides them their own way, but is never known (according to the Scripture phrase) either to shine forth before men or to glorify their Father in heaven.

Women use lovers as they do cards; they play with them awhile, and, when they have got all they can of them, throw them away, call for new ones, and then perhaps lose by the new ones all they got by the old ones.

This much I have discovered, that it is in writing as in building, where, after all our schemes and calculations, we are mightily deceived in our accounts, and often forced to make use of any materials we can find that the works may be kept a-going.