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


Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.
—John Adams

Little minds, like weak liquors, are soonest soured.

The mind is like a sheet of white paper in this, that the impressions it receives the oftenest, and retains the longest, are black ones.
—Edwin Arnold

The mind’s action is like that of an engineer who works under water. He goes down in a diving-bell, and is hidden. The work progresses, and the structure rises, but it does not show above water at all. It is there, but it is deep-seated and concealed.
—Henry Ward Beecher

Successful minds work like a gimlet, to a single point.
—C. N. Bovée

Our minds are like certain vehicles,—when they have little to carry they make much noise about it, but when heavily loaded they run quietly.
—Elihu Burritt

A wise man’s mind, as Seneca holds, is like the state of the world above the Moon, ever serene.
—Robert Burton

The mind, that broods o’er guilty woes,
Is like the Scorpion girt by fire,
In circle narrowing as it glows,
The flames around their captive close
So writhes the mind Remorse hath riven,
Unfit for earth, undoom’d for heaven,
Darkness above, despair beneath,
Around it flame, within it death.
—Lord Byron

A weak mind is like a microscope, which magnifies trifling things, but cannot receive great ones.
—Earl of Chesterfield

The mind, when imbued with the lessons of wisdom, is like a charioteer; for it restrains the desires implanted in us, and brings us back to virtue.

His mind was like a bottle, extended with the delectable liquor of observation.
—John Dryden

The mind is like a trunk. If well packed, it holds almost everything; if ill packed, next to nothing.
—Julius Charles Hare

Minds like fine pictures are by distance proved,
And objects proper, only as removed.
—Walter Harte

Sick minds are like sick men that burn with fevers,
Who when they drink, please but a present taste,
And after bear a more impatient fit.
—Ben Jonson

The mind of man is like the sea, which is neither agreeable to the beholder nor the voyager, in a calm or in a storm, but is so to both when a little agitated by gentle gales; and so the mind, when moved by soft and easy passions or affections.
—Charles Lamb

For as the precious stone Autharsitis beeing throwne into the fyre looketh blacke and halfe dead, but being cast into the water glistreth like the Sunne beames: so the precious minde of man once put into the flame of loue, is as it were vglye, and loseth his vertue, but sprinckled with the water of wisdome, and detestation of such fond delightes, it shineth like the golden rayes of Phæbus.
—John Lyly

The mind is like the eye, for, though it may see all other objects, it cannot see itself, and therefore cannot judge of itself.

As land is improved by sowing it with various seeds, so is the mind by exercising it with different studies.

To the mind’s eye things will appear,
At distance through an artful glass,
But bring the flattering objects near,
They’re all a senseless gloomy mass.
—Matthew Prior

Our minds are like our stomachs; they are whetted by the change of their food, variety supplies both with fresh appetite.

Thy mind is like a mirror swung in space,
And whirling on a thread. Now it reflecteth
The heavens, and now the earth. Now doth the lightning
Write hieroglyphs upon it, and anon
Some deep-sea monster glooms it with his bulk.
—Amélie Rives

As the soil, however rich it may be, cannot be productive without culture, so the mind without cultivation can never produce good fruit.

For ’tis the mind that makes the body rich;
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds,
So honor peereth in the meanest habit.
What, is the jay more precious than the lark,
Because his feathers are more beautiful.
—William Shakespeare

The chaste mind, like a polished plane, may admit foul thoughts, without receiving their tincture.
—Laurence Sterne