Home  »  A Dictionary of Similes  »  Thomas Carlyle

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

Thomas Carlyle

Abundant as the light of the sun.

Barren as a continent of Brandenburg sand.

Beautiful as a feather in one’s cap.

Bent-down like corbels of a building.

Black as Gehenna and the Pit of Hell.

Books, like invisible scouts, permeate the whole habitable globe, and Timbuctu itself is not safe from British Literature.

Bottomless as the foundation of the Universe.

Burst forth like the neighing of all Tattersall’s.

As certain as a tail will follow a comet.

Circling like a gin-horse.

Crammed in, like salted fish, in their barrel.

Creation, says one, lies before us, like a glorious Rainbow; but the Sun that made it lies behind us, hidden from us.

Darkly, as through the foliage of some wavering thicket.

Dashes, like a fire-flood.

Declining to change themselves, even as sulphuric acid declines to be sweet milk, though you vote so until the end of the world.

Deep as hell from high heaven.

Deep as Tophet, high as heaven.

Silence as deep as eternity.

Deep as life and death.

Delicate as invisible needle-points.

Dies like cookery with the day that brought it forth.

The true beautiful … differs from the false as Heaven does from Vauxhall.

The piece by Voltaire … distinguished itself from the surrounding pieces like a slab of compact polished stone in a floor rammed together out of ruinous old bricks, and broken bottles, and mortar dust.

Distressing us like some bad banquet.

Encumbering … like a circumambient Bedlam.

Evident as the sun at noon.

Exact as clock-work.

Brilliant eyes, swift-darting as the stars.

Fade away like a Vesture.

Falling like a bolt out of the blue.

Held firm, like a wall of rock.

Fits in its place, like a marble stone accurately hewn and polished.

Flourishing as a Banyan-grove.

Flutters as an unreal shadow.

Followed like a comet-tail.

Cold glitter as of ice.

Gone … like ice on a June day.

A government tumbling and drifting on the whirlpool and mud-deluges, floating atop in a conspicuous manner, no whither, like the carcass of a drowned ass.

Gratis, as yesternight.

Grinning like enchanted apes.

Hate like cat and dog.

Hateful as death.

High as the stars.

A man [Voltaire] hunted by the little devils that dwell unchained within him; like Pentheus by the Mænads, like Actæon by his own Dogs.

Grenadiers … stood their ground immovable, like rocks, steadily spouting fire-torrents.

Implacable as the voice of Doom.

Important as life eternal and death eternal.

Inexhaustible as the hoard of King Neibelung, which twelve wagons in twelve days, at the rate of three journeys a day, could not carry off.

Inexorable as that of Destiny and Doom.

Light as gossamer.

With a look … that would split a pitcher, as the Irish say.

Loving as a mother’s voice.

A young man of high talent, and high though still temper, like a young mettled colt, ‘breaks-off his neck-halter’, and bounds forth, from his peculiar manger, into the wide world; which, alas, he finds all rigorously fenced-in. Richest clover-fields tempt his eye; but to him they are forbidden pasture: either pining in progressive starvation, he must stand; or, in mad exasperation, must rush to and fro, leaping against sheer stone-walls, which he cannot leap over, which only lacerate and lame him; till at last, after thousand attempts and endurances, he, as if by miracle, clears his way: not indeed into luxuriant and luxurious clover, yet into a certain bosky wilderness where existence is still possible, and Freedom, though waited on by Scarcity, is not without sweetness.

Moan like nightbirds.

In her modesty, like a star among earthly lights.

Nimble as roes.

Radiant … like paths of the gods.

Ready as a primed cannon.

Face of him … red as that of the foggiest rising Moon.

Reform, like charity, must begin at home.

Return upon you like pent waters.

Richer than Ormuz bazaars.

Rough as hemp.

Round as Giotto’s O.

Two souls, like two dew-drops, rushed into one.

Serenely sad as eternity.

How beautiful is noble sentiment: like gossamer gauze, beautiful and cheap, which will stand no wear and tear.

Like the magnetic needle, shaky but steadfast.

Like the prick of a needle, duly sharp.

Shock like tornado tempests.

Silent … like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Soft as duffel.

Soft as sunset.

Solitary … like some colossal Pillar of the Cyclops.

Considered as the last finish of education, or of human culture, worth and acquirement, the art of speech is noble, and even divine; it is like the kindling of a Heaven’s light to show us what a glorious world exists, and has perfected itself, in a man.

Grenadiers … stand there, like a fixed stone-dam in that wild whirlpool of ruin.

Steadfast as the sun.

Stealthily, as if on shoes of felt, as if on paws of velvet.

Stout of fibre as hemp.

Strong as bulls.

Strong as the Harz-rock, rooted in the depths of the world.

Struggling like a man led towards death and crucifixion.

Loftily stupid, like dumb idols.

Sublime, like a pit crockery Idol.

Succeed each other, like monster devouring monster in a dream.

Hearts swelling in presence of the Queen of Hearts; like the sea swelling when once near its moon.

In terror … like a child that has lost its mother and sees a mastiff coming.

As ugly as were ever born of mud.

Unexpectedly, like a bolt out of the blue.

Vanishes, as is his wont, too like an Ignis Fatuus, leaving the dark still darker.

Vanished, like a ghost at cock-crowing.

Virtue is like health, the harmony of the whole man.

Like other plants, virtue will not grow unless its roots be hidden, buried from the eye of the sun.

A vividness as of fire in dark night.

Watching every glance of him like a British house-dog that will not be taken in with suspicious travelers if he can help it.

Welcome, like one tiny islet of Reality amid the shoreless sea of Phantasms, to the reflective mind, seriously loving and seeking what is worthy and memorable, seriously hating and avoiding what is the reverse, and intent not to play the dilettante in this world.

Weltering, shall I say, like an Egyptian pitcher of tamed vipers, each struggling to get its head above the others.

Grenadiers continually wheeling, like so many reapers steady among wind-tossed grain.

Burning Words, like so many full-formed Minervas, issuing amid flame and splendor from Jove’s head.