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Metaphor, Analogy and Simile: The Difference and Why it is Important

 

Metaphor, Analogy and Simile: The Difference and Why it is Important

There is a lot of talk in NLP about Metaphor and of using metaphors as teaching tools. But what is a Metaphor? And what is the difference between Metaphor, Analogy and Simile (and why it is useful to know)?

 

There is a lot of talk in NLP about Metaphor and of using metaphors as teaching tools. But what is a Metaphor? And what is the difference between Metaphor, Analogy and Simile (and why it is useful to know)?

Analogy

“Analogies prove nothing, that is true, but they can make one feel more at home.”

- Sigmund Freud

Analogy, in it’s broadest definition is in fact an umbrella term for a cognitive process where we transfer meaning or information from a particular subject to another subject. It is a similarity between the features of two things where a comparison can be made.

In rhetoric (the study of communication), it is where we create reasoning or explanation from a parallel subject.

A classic example of an analogy is the describe the human mind like a computer. They are not identical, but considering the mind to be like a computer can create greater understanding of the human mind.

Metaphor

Metaphor is a type of analogy, but where analogy is identifying two things as similar, a metaphor claims a comparison where there may not be one. It is then up to the listener to create meaning out of this comparison.

For example “ that sound goes through me like nails down a blackboard”. The sound may be very different to the nails on the blackboard, but create a similar sensation or emotion.

Simile

Finally, a less important but common metaphor. It takes the idea of comparing two unrelated subjects to create meaning at a deeper level, it is figure of speech where two unlike subjects are explicitly compared. They tend to be more lyrical and less literal.

For example, “She is like a rose”. What, she is green and spiky? No! It is comparing the generally accepted qualities of a rose (romance, beauty, etc) and comparing to the woman in question to illustrate her qualities.