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

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Age, like woman, requires fit surroundings.

She walked in flowers around my fields
As June herself around the sphere.

Beautiful as is the rose in June.

We cannot get at beauty. Its nature is like opaline doves’-neck lustres, hovering and evanescent.

Blown up like a tumor.

I suspect that there is in an Englishman’s brain a valve that can be closed at pleasure, as an engineer shuts off steam.

Capacious like the storehouse of the rains.

A character is like an acrostic or Alexandrine stanza—read it forward, backward, or across, it spells the same thing.

Checked its hand
Like Alpine cataracts frozen as they leaped.

His eye is as clear as the heavens.

Cooled, like lust in the chill of the grave.

Dipping here and there, like diggers in California “prospecting for a placer” that will pay.

Disgusting, like moving cheese.

As the drop feeds its fated flower,
As finds its Alp the snowy shower,
Child of the omnific Need,
Hurled into life to do a deed,
Man drinks the water, drinks the light.

Elastic as the gas of gunpowder.

Erect as a sunbeam, upspringeth the palm.

When a man speaks the truth in the spirit of truth, his eye is as clear as the heavens. When he has base ends, and speaks falsely, the eye is muddy, and sometimes asquint.

An eye can threaten like a loaded and levelled gun, or can insult like hissing or kicking; or, in its altered mood, by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance with joy.

But oh, to see his solar eyes
Like meteors which chose their way
And rived the dark like a new day.

Atom from atom yawns as far
As moon from earth, or star from star.

An Englishman of fashion is like one of those souvenirs, bound in gold vellum, enriched with delicate engravings, on thick hot-pressed paper, fit for the hands of ladies and princes, but with nothing in it worth reading or remembering.

Fled like the flood’s foam.

Fluid as a cloud or the air.

Creative force, like a musical composer, goes on unwearyingly repeating a simple air or theme, now high, now low, in solo, in chorus, ten thousand times reverberated, till it fills earth and heaven with the chant.

Fragrant as a violet on a summer’s night.

Free as an Arab.

Fresh as the trickling rainbow in July.

Frugal, like a beggar’s child.

Gaunt as bitterns in the pools.

Helpless as a king of England.

Heroism, like Plotinus, is almost ashamed of its body.

Hide ourself as Adam at the voice of the Lord God in the garden.

Illusion like the tints of pearl,
Or changing colors of the sky,
Or ribbons of a dancing girl
That mend her beauty to the eye.

Indelible as Domesday Book.

Indispensable as clean linen.

Jump like Harlequin.

Laughter rich as woodland thunder.

Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.

Men are like Geneva watches with crystal faces which expose the whole movement.

Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes.

Passive obedience, like jumping off a castle-roof at the word of a czar.

Perish like leaves.

Proverbs, like the sacred books of each nation, are the sanctuary of the Institutions.

Rich as love.

The sciences, even the best,—mathematics and astronomy,—are like sportsmen, who seize whatever prey offers, even without being able to make any use of it.

Though thy voice be shrill, like rasping file on steel.

Slumber like a stone.

Soft and fluid as a cloud on the air.

Sound as a nut.

Spinning like bubbles in a river.

Sudden as the crack of rifle.

Sweet as the murmur of the brook and the rustle of the corn.

Tense as that cartilage which we have seen attaching the two Siamese.

I’ve been tossed like the driven foam.

Unstainèd as the sun.

Virtuous as a briar-rose.

Voice … as sweet as the murmur of the brook and the rustle of the corn.

Wide as hope.

Wild as dreams.

Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.

The writer, like the priest, must be exempted from secular labor. His work needs a frolic health: he must be at the top of his condition.