What is an Analogy? Definition and Examples of Analogy in Literature

Analogies are ​comparisons between two things which emphasize the similarities between those things​, inferring that one is similar to the other based on common characteristics. Analogies are verbal tools that develop critical thinking and vocabulary skills and are generally considered an indicator of intelligence. They are frequently found on academic tests and generally used in logical, scientific, mathematical and philosophical applications.


Analogies are indicated by a colon between the words that form a relationship, with a double colon between the two relationships being compared.

Here are 5 different types of analogies:

Semantic Analogies

Scholastic aptitude and achievement tests such as the SAT, MAT or GRE examinations frequently ask analogy questions based on vocabulary categories. Semantic analogies are word usage analogies that emphasize the similarity or difference of word definitions.

Example of a synonym analogy:

Peace: harmony

Meaning that peace is similar to harmony.

Example of an antonym analogy:

Straight: curved

Emphasizing that straight is the opposite of curved.

Association Analogies

Association analogies point out cause-and-effect, functional and sequential order relationships.

Example of a cause-and-effect analogy:

A fire: smoke analogy shows the relationship that a fire is the cause of smoke.

Example of a functional analogy:

A functional analogy could be keyboard: type demonstrating that a keyboard is used for typing.

Example of a sequential order analogy:

Sequential order would be demonstrated by first: second :: fourth: fifth.

Mathematical Analogies

Mathematical analogies test similarities of equality or proportions of numbers.

For example:

Examples of mathematical analogies could include .75: ¾, meaning they are equal figures. Or if a=5 and b= 6, then a+b: 12 :: 4: 5, meaning they represent unequal values.

Logical Analogies

Non-semantic logical analogies are those that compare letter patterns and phonetics.

For example:

For instance, gum: dumb :: tap: lap shows that gum rhymes with dumb just as tap rhymes with lap. A letter pattern analogy might show that the compared words have similar letters in them, such as the ato in anatomy: atoll.

Literature Analogy Examples

The clouds were low and hairy in the skies, like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes. - Robert Frost, "Once by the Pacific"

  • What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
  • By any other word would smell as sweet.
  • So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called. - Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet"

Shakepeare, "Macbeth"

  • Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
  • That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
  • And then is heard no more. It is a tale
  • Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
  • Signifying nothing.

"My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get." - The Movie Forest Gump