Let’s stipulate that everybody here knows the difference between a metaphor and a simile, and move on from there…

Cidu Bill on Aug 10th 2017


Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, Reality Check, comic strips, comics, humor | 24 responses so far

24 Responses to “Let’s stipulate that everybody here knows the difference between a metaphor and a simile, and move on from there…”

  1. Folly Aug 10th 2017 at 04:28 pm 1

    Maybe all they have left is similes since the response he got was a simile.

    But the squirrel screws it all up, because he says they are out of cliches, but the response is also a cliche, hmmm…

  2. larK Aug 10th 2017 at 05:03 pm 2

    Does anyone else feel like the distinction between metaphors and similes that is drilled into us in English class is just manufactured make-work, overcompensation to prove that an English degree isn’t just all fluff and BS? Who really cares if one uses like or as? The general concept is really the same, of what use is separating out exactly how the metaphor is drawn (see what I did there, spitting on the distinction by calling them all metaphors?)? I’d think if they spent the same amount of zeal teaching the difference between “effect” and “affect” we’d all be better served…

  3. larK Aug 10th 2017 at 05:09 pm 3

    He has the flat affect of a sociopath on Xanax.


    He effects an air of insouciance like a psychopath on lithium.


  4. James Pollock Aug 10th 2017 at 05:26 pm 4

    If we buy into the stipulation, we’re also stipulating that these categories overlap, and similes ARE metaphors, yes? So the complaint with this cartoon is that he asked for a metaphor, and got a metaphor, and just wants to complain?

  5. Folly Aug 10th 2017 at 06:23 pm 5

    You can almost always convert a simile into a similar metaphor. ‘Sorry, we’re busy bees!’

  6. James Pollock Aug 10th 2017 at 06:47 pm 6


    I’m both unaffected AND uneffected.

  7. Timothy Bass Aug 10th 2017 at 08:05 pm 7

    Simile and the world similes with you.

  8. Mark in Boston Aug 10th 2017 at 08:11 pm 8

    At a certain point, around the 17th century, pedants took it on themselves to dictate the standards of English spelling and usage. In general this was a good thing and eventually made automated data processing possible.

    However, they went above and beyond in many ways. “Debitum” is Latin, so “debt” must have a “b” in it, never mind that it was “dett” in Old English and “dete” in old French for centuries.

    Latin has no separate word like “to” to denote the infinitive, so you can’t split an infinitive, so you must not attempt to boldly split an infinitive in English.

  9. Arthur Aug 10th 2017 at 08:47 pm 9

    Metaphors, in general, are more subtle than similes and require
    more from the reader (listener).

    “English is a mess of sausage.” You can take that many ways.
    Some similar similes would be: “English is as diverse as a mess
    of sausage;” “English is as spicy as a mess of sausage;” and
    “Discussing English is as bad for you as eating a mess of

  10. Singapore Bill Aug 10th 2017 at 11:12 pm 10

    The reason it’s a CIDU is that the cartoonist misspelled “ass” and left out the hyphen.

    “Sorry, we’re busy-ass bees” IS a metaphor, so they would be acknowledging the error and correcting it at the same time.

  11. Arthur Aug 10th 2017 at 11:47 pm 11

    But as to the actual joke intended…

    He’s taking the term “literary devices” and using “devices”
    literally, as if it were something tangible. So the writer has
    to go to their window to get one.

  12. Winter Wallaby Aug 11th 2017 at 12:52 am 12

    Mark in Boston #7: I always took the “split infinitive rule” to be a faux-rule that true English pedants knew was not actually a rule. (Similarly, the rule about not ending a sentence in a preposition.)

  13. Dave in Boston Aug 11th 2017 at 02:11 am 13

    No true Scotsman splits an infinitive! :-)

  14. DemetriosX Aug 11th 2017 at 05:26 am 14

    Which brings up the old bit: “What’s a metaphor?” “Nothing. What’s a matter for you?” (And now I’m stuck with “Shaddap You Face”. *sigh*)

    @Singapore Bill (9): I can never see that construction without thinking of the XKCD where he flips the hyphen to the other side of the “ass”. “Sorry, we’re busy ass-bees.”

  15. Mitch4 Aug 11th 2017 at 08:58 am 15

    A person’s reach should exceed their grasp
    Else what’s a meta for?

  16. Kilby Aug 11th 2017 at 10:11 am 16

    @ DemetriosX (13) - Are you sure that was XKCD? I’ve tried searching for the phrase and its component words, and was not able to find it anywhere.

  17. mitch4 Aug 11th 2017 at 10:21 am 17

    larK @3 I heartily agree that this set of words makes an interesting case study. If you think of it as two dimensions of variation — noun vs. verb, and spelled-with-a vs. spelled-with-e — all four cells can be filled with fairly common usages under traditional standard English. (Not going into “correct” or that area!) And some indeed have more than a single sense within one cell.

    Though all four cells of that grid have nice entries from common usage, there are two that seem much more common than the other two — and these seem to be what people have in mind when saying “Let’s observe the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’.” These would be verb-with-a and noun-with-e; and interestingly, their main meanings are linked. To affect something is to have an effect on it.

    I have to say, I think one of your examples is not in line with what I see as the traditional pattern. That would be your second case, which you give as an example of verb-with-e but I see as the less-common second meaning of verb-with-a: to affect a manner or style is to assume it falsely, put it on, make it an affectation.

  18. mitch4 Aug 11th 2017 at 10:21 am 18

    So, for completeness:

    affect (verb): 1. (Most common) Cause a change to something, have an effect on it, influence something.. 2. Adopt as false mannerisms, make an affectation of something.

    affect (noun): Mood or emotion. “He displays flattened affect.”

    effect (verb): Bring about, create. “The new management plans to effect sweeping changes.”

    effect (noun):(Most common) A result or influence.

  19. larK Aug 11th 2017 at 10:47 am 19

  20. larK Aug 11th 2017 at 10:55 am 20

    Mitch4: You’re right, I did screw up my use of “effect” — I knew someone would call me on my bulls!t ;-) But at least I know the difference between a simile and a metaphor (a simile is, like, a metaphor), and I can name the three classical Greek columns (Dora the explorer, Ironic, and Kärnten).

  21. DemetriosX Aug 11th 2017 at 11:43 am 21

    larK beat me to it. I had no idea it was so early, though. You can also see how much actual art goes into one of those strips these days, even if they are just stick-figures.

  22. mike smith Aug 11th 2017 at 04:05 pm 22

    I see your metaphor and raise you a synecdoche!

  23. Mark in Boston Aug 12th 2017 at 08:09 pm 23

    @mike smith: I used to live in Synecdoche New York.

  24. Joseph K. Aug 14th 2017 at 07:43 pm 24

    This reminds of the student writing a story for his creative writing class, and he’s almost finished, he just needs to add some symbolism.

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