What Is the Difference Between a Parable and a Metaphor?

Both parables and metaphors have hidden meanings. A parable uses a story to convey a deeper message. Metaphors refer to one subject, while the actual subject is something else entirely. The structure of parables and metaphors often differ in length, content and meaning. There are very famous and well-known parables. There are also metaphors used in everyday speech and easily understood by all.


Parables are short stories used to convey a moral message. Some of the most famous parables come from Christianity and are religious in nature. There are also parables for children that use animals to convey messages. One of the most well-known parables for children is the story of the boy who cried wolf. This story of a child left to tend sheep is a message to children about the dangers of lying.


Metaphors are figures of speech meant to relate two things through comparison. We use metaphors daily in our speech and our writing to help shed meaning on subjects. Metaphors are often used in songs, such as "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar. In saying "love is a battlefield," the meaning is love is difficult and dangerous like being on a battlefield in war.

More Parables

There are many well-known parables, including:

The story about the tortoise and the hare, which is meant to inspire diligent work and effort.

The biblical story of the Good Samaritan, told to inspire people to be kind to others.

The story of brother and sister Jack and Jill, told to stop children from wandering away from home.

More Metaphors

Numerous metaphors are used in everyday speech, including:

You are the apple of my eye, used to express fondness.

He is the black sheep of the family, used to describe someone who doesn't fit in with their family.

Don't open that can of worms, used to state that doing something could cause trouble.

Don't make a mountain out of a molehill, used as a warning not to overexaggerate.