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

Robert Burton

Asunder like the arches of a bridge.

As amber attracts a straw, so does beauty admiration, which only lasts while the warmth continues; but virtue, wisdom, goodness, and real worth, like the loadstone, never lose their power.

Besmeared like a gypsy or a chimney-sweeper.

Bill as Doves.

As clamorous as Hecuba.

As clear and as manifest as the nose on a man’s face.

Cling like Ivy.

Close as an oyster.

As cruel as Medea.

The passions and desires, like the two twists of rope, mutually mix one with the other, and twine inextricably round the heart; producing good, if moderately indulged; but certain destruction, if suffered to become inordinate.

Detestable as exalted wickedness.

As a torch doth oil, draws.

As a lamp is choked with a multitude of oil, or a little fire with overmuch wood quite extinguished; so is the natural heat with immoderate eating strangled in the body.

His eyes are like a balance, apt to propend each way, and to be weighed down with every wench’s looks.

Beauty fades as a tree in winter.

False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports.

Fight like a dragon.

A mere flash; as chaff and straw soon fired, burn vehemently for a while, yet out in a moment.

Floating like the Cyannean Isles in the Euxine Sea.

As the Sun is in the Firmament, so is friendship in the world, a most divine and heavenly band.

As fruitful as Egypt.

Going as if he had trod upon eggs.

Hard as flint.

A great indecorum, to use men like old shoes or broken glasses, which are flung to the dunghill.

Indented like a saw.

Inseparable, as a shadow to a body.

It is irksome to them so to live, as to a bird in a cage, or a dog in a kennel.

So he that goes to law, as the proverb is, holds a wolf by the ears, or, as a sheep in a storm runs for shelter to a briar, if he prosecute his cause he is consumed, if he surcease his suit he loseth all; what difference?

Love is increased by injuries, as the Sunbeams are more gracious after a cloud.

As the Sun is in the Firmament, so is Love in the world.

Love … dearly, like pig and pie.

As lustful as Messalina.

As mad as Orlando for his Angelica, or Hercules for his Hylas.

A young man is like a fair new house, the carpenter leaves it well built, in good repair, a solid stuff; but a bad tenant lets it rain in, and for want of reparation fall to decay, etc. Our Parents, Tutors, Friends, spare no cost to bring us up in our youth in all manner of virtuous education; but when we are left to ourselves idleness as a tempest drives all virtuous notions out of our minds, etc., and nihili sumus, on a sudden, by sloth and such bad ways, we come to naught.

Man is like a napkin, the more neatly the housewife doubles him, the more carefully she lays him on the shelf.

As clear and as manifest as the nose in a man’s face.

Melancholy as Monks and Hermits.

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

As necessary as Churches.

Nose like a promontory.

As much pity is to be taken of a woman weeping, as of a goose going barefoot.

As prodigious, as that of the Sun’s swift motion of Heavens.

Rage like a lion.

Rave like beasts stupefied.

Rich as Crœsus.

Roaring like Juno in the Tragedy.

Round and round in the same circle, like a dog in a wheel, or a horse in a mill.

Sad as Melancholy.

As arrant a scold as Xanthippe.

Rail and scold like butter-women.

How slender a tract, as scant as Alcibiades his land in a Map.

As slender in the middle as a Cow in the waist.

Soft as wool.

Sour as Melancholy.

Sticks as close … as a shadow to a body.

Sting like a serpent.

His memory stinks like the snuff of a candle when it is put out.

Strikes like lightning.

Sweet as matrimony.

Cluttered together like so many pebbles in a tide.

Turn it, as a nose of wax, to their own ends.

Unwinding themselves as so many clocks.

Various as our palates.

The color also of this mixture varies in proportion to its degrees of heat and coldness; as a burning coal, when it is hot, shines; and when it is cold, looks black.

Wealth is like a child’s rattle, which pleases for a moment, and is enjoyed no more.

His wealth increaseth, and the more he hath, the more he wants: like Pharaoh’s lean kine, which devoured the fat, and were not satisfied.

Weep like a crocodile.

Wither away like a flower ungathered in a garden.

Pleasant at first she is, like Dioscorides’ Rhododaphne, that fair plant to the eye, but poison to the taste, the rest as bitter as wormwood in the end and sharp as a two-edged sword.

Worship me like an Idol.

Our writings are as so many dishes, our readers guests, our books like beauty, that which one admires, another rejects; so are we approved as men’s fancies are inclined.