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


A painted woman is like a gilded pill; fools admire the former, and children the latter, for the disguise.

A woman, like a melon, is hard to choose.

Women are like melons: it is only after having tasted them that we know whether they are good or not.

Pretty women are like sovereigns: one flatters them only through interest.

Woman, like good wine, is a sweet poison.

Women, like the plants in woods, derive their softness and tenderness from the shade.

Most women proceed like the flea,—by leaps and jumps.
—Honoré de Balzac

Women, like birds, are shy of a single spring; perplex them by a choice, their heads become giddy, they flutter, and drop into the trap.
—Robert Mowry Bell

Women, like conjurers’ tricks, are miracles to the ignorant.
—Robert Mowry Bell

Women, like loadstones, lose their attraction, when they suffer the rust of a fretful temper to eat away their brightness.
—Robert Mowry Bell

Women are like wasps in their anger. Not so, for wasps leave their stings, but women never leave their tongues behind them.
—Nicholas Breton

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.
—Robert Burton

Your women
Are like new plays, which self-complacent authors
Offer at some eight hundred royals each,
But which, when once they’re tried, you purchase dear
Eight hundred for a royal.
—Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Women, and men who are like women, mind the binding more than the book.
—Earl of Chesterfield

Women are like tricks by sleight of hand,
Which to admire, we should not understand.
—William Congreve

Women are like medlars, no sooner ripe than rotten.
—Thomas Dekker

Beautiful peaches are not always the best flavored; neither are handsome women the most amiable.
—W. S. Downey

The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.
—George Eliot

Women are like pictures; of no value in the hands of a fool, till he hears men of sense bid high for the purchase.
—George Farquhar

The womenfolk are like the books,—most pleasing to the eye,
Whereon if anybody looks he feels disposed to buy.
—Eugene Field

Woman is like a pot of oil, and a man a burning coal. A wise man will not put the oil and the fire together.

Women, with their tongues,
Like polar needles, ever on the jar.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes

You look at a star from two motives, because it is luminous—and because it is impenetrable. You have at your side a softer radiance and a greater mystery—woman.
—Victor Hugo

A fine woman, like a fortified town … demands a regular siege; and we must even allow her the honors of war, to magnify the greatness of our victory.
—Hugh Kelly

I have been servitor in a college at Salamanca, and read philosophy with the doctors; where I found that a woman, in all times, has been observed to be an animal hard to understand, and much inclined to mischief. Now as an animal is always an animal, and a captain is always a captain, so a woman is always a woman; whence it is that a certain Greek says, her head is like a bank of sand; or, as another, a solid rock; or, according to a third, a dark lanthorn: and so, as the head is the head of the body; and that body without a head, is like a head without a tail; and that where there is neither head nor tail, ’tis a very strange body; so, I say, a woman is, by comparison, do you see? (for nothing explains things like comparisons). I say by comparison, as Aristotle has often said before me, one may compare her to the raging sea; for as the sea, when the wind rises, knits its brows like an angry bull, and that waves mount upon rocks, rocks mount upon waves, that porpoises leap like trouts, and whale skip about like gudgeons; that ships roll like beer-barrels, and mariners pray like saints; just so, I say, a woman—a woman, I say, just so, when her reason is ship-wrecked upon her passion, and the hulk of her understanding lies thumping against the rock of her fury; then it is, I say, that by certain emotions, which—um—cause, as one may suppose, a sort of convulsive—yes—hurricanes—um—like—in short, a woman is the devil.
—Thomas King

Hard is the fortune that your sex attends;
Women, like princes, find few real friends:
And who approach them their own ends pursue;
Lovers and ministers are seldom true.
—Lord Lyttelton

A woman is like the ivy, which grows luxuriantly whilst it clings to some sturdy tree, but never thrives if it is separated from it.
—Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière

A woman who loves to be at the window is like a bunch of grapes at the wayside.
—Italian Proverb

A woman possessing nothing but outward advantages is like a flower without fragrance, a tree without fruit.

Women are like thermometers, which, on a sudden application of heat, sink at first a few degrees, as preliminary to rising a good many.
—John Paul Richter

Women, like summer storms, awhile are cloudy,
Burst out in thunder and impetuous show’rs;
But straight the sun of beauty dawns abroad,
And all the fair horizon is serene.
—Nicholas Rowe

Women, like things, at second hand
Do half their value lose;
But, whilst all courtship they withstand,
May at their pleasure choose.
—Sir Charles Sedley

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.
—Jonathan Swift

Women are like roses, whose fair flower
Being once displayed, doth fall that very hour.
—William Shakespeare

A woman, that is like a German clock,
Still a-repairing, ever out of frame,
And never going right, being a watch,
But being watch’d that it may still go right!
—William Shakespeare

A woman mov’d is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And, while it is so, none so dry and thirsty
Will deign to sip, or touch one drop of it.
—William Shakespeare

Woman the other world resembles well,
In whose looks Heav’n is, in whose breast is Hell.
—Sir Edward Sherburne

A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
—Old Testament

Women are like curst dogs: civility keeps them tied all day-time, but they are let loose at midnight; then they do most good, or most mischief.
—John Webster

Woman is like the reed that bends to every breeze, but breaks not in the tempest.
—Richard Whately

You say, sir, once a wit allow’d a woman to be like a cloud, accept a simile as soon between a woman and the moon; for let mankind say what they will, the sex are heavenly bodies still.
—James. C. Whyte

Women are like minors; they live on their expectations.
—Oscar Wilde

Women, like old soldiers, more nimbly execute than they resolve.
—William Wycherley