Reference > Quotations > Frank J. Wilstach, comp. > A Dictionary of Similes
Frank J. Wilstach, comp.  A Dictionary of Similes.  1916.
Victor Hugo
  A good action like a ring on the finger, the relief of a man of wit, the patronization of a clergyman.  1
  Reprehensible actions are like overstrong brandies; you cannot swallow them at a draught.  2
  Adorable as a dazzling and innocent creature who walks along, holding in her hand the key to paradise without being conscious of it.  3
  April is like a child that smiles in waking.  4
  Bent … like a soldier at the approach of an assault.  5
  Bitter as truth.  6
  Black as the wood of the gallows-tree.  7
  Blanched like plants raised in cellars.  8
  Blind as inexperience.  9
  Blossomed like a rose.  10
  Blowing like a blacksmith’s bellows.  11
  Boldly, like eagles on the wing.  12
  Brave as a grenadier.  13
  Bright as a beacon.  14
  Broad as Heaven’s expanse.  15
  Calm as night.  16
  Candid as a dove is white.  17
  His chagrin was like those newly invented furnaces which consume their own smoke.  18
  Chaste … as an unfleshed sword.  19
  Cheerfulness is like money well expended in charity; the more we dispense of it, the greater our possession.  20
  Chirping as chirp the birds beneath the eaves.  21
  Chuckling like a setting hen.  22
  Cities, like forests, have their dens in which hide all their vilest and most dangerous monsters.  23
  Clapped his hands like the clapping of wings.  24
  Clear as if the angels had washed it.  25
  Complex as the Iliad.  26
  A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil.  27
  Confusedly, like a flight of dark shadows.  28
  Courageous and choleric as a hive.  29
  Courageous as a tinker.  30
  Cower and crouch like an English housemaid when knees are calloused with scrubbing.  31
  Making the floor crack as if an image of stone were walking over it.  32
  Crushed as vermin.  33
  Cry as an eagle freed.  34
  Dangerous as the foamy race of ocean surges.  35
  Destitute of sense as the gesture of the tree and the sound of the wind.  36
  A remnant of beauty was dying out upon this face of sixteen, like the pale sun which is extinguished by frightful clouds at the dawn of a winter’s day.  37
  Disappeared, as a shadow melting into air.  38
  Dispersed like smoke wreaths.  39
  This sluggard dotes, it seems, on slumber, like an ass on oats.  40
  Most people’s downfalls are not dangerous; they are like children who have not far to fall, and can not injure themselves.  41
  Dripping like a mermaid.  42
  Envy excels in exciting jealousy, as a rat draws the crocodile from its hole.  43
  Erect as a live hydra.  44
  Eternal as is Sion.  45
  Eyes … overflow like two cups filled above the brim.  46
  Faded from me like a dream.  47
  Faithful as the eagle to the sun, as is the steel unto the magnet.  48
  Familiar to me as my own face in the glass; as the speech of my own tongue.  49
  Fast as light.  50
  As flat as Æschylus in Bohn’s translation.  51
  Flat as a willow-pattern plate.  52
  Fled like a Parthian.  53
  Flew as in a dream.  54
  Poor and forgotten like a clod upon the field.  55
  Formless as midnight.  56
  Fresh as April’s heaven.  57
  Fresh as a young girl.  58
  Fretting like a wild horse struggling to escape.  59
  Full of life as a multitude.  60
  Fumbling about her like a drowning person.  61
  The first glance of a soul which does not yet know itself is like the dawn in the sky.  62
  The glances of women are like certain apparently peaceful but really formidable machines. You pass them every day quietly, with impunity and without suspicion of danger. There comes a moment when you forget even that they are there. You come and go, you muse, and talk, and laugh. Suddenly you feel that you are seized! It is done. The wheels have caught you, the glance has captured you. It has taken you, no matter how or where, by any portion whatever of your thought which was trailing, through any absence of mind. You are lost. You will be drawn in entirely. A train of mysterious forces has gained possession of you. You struggle in vain. No human succor is possible. You will be drawn down from wheel to wheel, from anguish to anguish, from torture to torture. You, your mind, your fortune, your soul; and you will not escape from the terrible machine, until, according as you are in the power of a malevolent nature, or a noble heart, you will be disfigured by shame or transfigured by love.  63
  A glance … such as Voltaire would have thrown upon a provincial academician who had proposed a rhyme to him.  64
  His glance was like a gimlet, cold and piercing.  65
  Glares like a tiger.  66
  Glimmer, like the last flicker of a night-light.  67
  Glittering as a parterre.  68
  Glows, like a peak at dawn.  69
  As gracious as the morn.  70
  Groping blindly as in a dream.  71
  Happy as a lord.  72
  Hate without an object is like a shooting-match without a target.  73
Whose breath I hate
As reek o’ the rotten fens.
  Haunted as a robber-path through wilderness of wood.  75
  Hideous as evil.  76
  Hissing like a snake.  77
  Horny as a briar rose.  78
  A fixed idea is like a gimlet; every year gives it another turn. To pull it out the first year is like plucking out the hair by the roots; in the second year, like tearing the skin; in the third, like breaking the bones; and in the fourth, like removing the very brain itself.  79
  An idea is like a meteor; at the critical moment, the confused meditations which have preceded it open a way, and a spark flashes forth…. These flashes are generated in the conscience in its states of cloud and darkness.  80
  Immovable in the flow of the rout as rocks in running water.  81
  Impersonal as the justice of God.  82
  A little girl without a doll is almost as unfortunate and quite as impossible as a woman without children.  83
  Inert as a dead body.  84
  Inoffensive as a glass of water.  85
  Insistent as remorse.  86
  Intricate as a thicket.  87
  Jarred horrid, like the rusted hinge upon a door of hell, like the shrill scream outbursting from a frightened charger’s throat, like the rasp of a tang of brass against an iron gate.  88
  Jealous as a pet greyhound.  89
  Jealous as a Spaniard.  90
  Liberty has its roots in the hearts of the people, as the tree in the hearts of the earth; like the tree it raises and spreads its branches to heaven; like the tree it is ceaseless in its growth, and it covers generations with its shade.  91
  Lights as of dawn beyond the tomb.  92
  A look like a noose.  93
  Meditate deeply, like a warning whisper from Providence.  94
  Melt away into the darkness like a snowflake in the water.  95
  They had mingled their hearts together as they grew up, as two saplings planted near, mingle their branches as they become trees.  96
  Motionless, as if thunder-stricken.  97
  Multiply in swarms, like vermin.  98
  Muttering like the murmur of hurried priest dispatching a prayer.  99
  Nameless as God.  100
  Obeyed, as the she-wolf obeys her mate, with a growl.  101
  Odorous as a bouquet.  102
  Opened inertly like the hands of the dead.  103
  Opposite as the spheres.  104
  Ideal oppression … something like a fly serving spiders.  105
  Pale as a corpse.  106
  Panted like a forge bellows.  107
  Passed away like waves.  108
  Peaceful as stars at twilight.  109
  Penetrates like a vapor.  110
  Peoples, like planets, possess the right to an eclipse. And all is well, provided that the light returns and that the eclipse does not degenerate into night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous.  111
  The crisis was perilous, but not without its charm: such as an Indian, perhaps, feels when he slips over the rapid in his canoe.  112
  Persistence … like the obstinacy of a rancid odour clinging to the hair.  113
  Pitiable, like every ignorant man who wins a triumph.  114
  Placid as a stone.  115
  Populous as an ant-hill.  116
  Primitive … like the praam and the canoe.  117
  Proudly, like a bold swimmer.  118
  Pure as a burning ember.  119
  Pure as spirits.  120
  Reeling, to and fro, like a reed.  121
  Restless as water that winds onward through the plains.  122
  A restoration is like an old oil painting, blackened by time, and revarnished.  123
  A certain amount of reverie is good, like a narcotic in discreet doses.  124
  Reverie, like a mist, leaves no trace behind.  125
  Ridgy as backs of mountain-chains.  126
  Roaring like a tempest.  127
  As rosy as a bride.  128
  Fell slowly into ruin, like all dwellings to which the presence of man no longer communicates life.  129
  Sad as eve.  130
  Serene as the dawn.  131
  Sharp as a beak.  132
  Sharp as truth.  133
  Ships are like flies in the spider’s web of the sea.  134
  Shivers, like a signal-flame held high.  135
  He felt the sort of shudder which a bull-dog would feel who should scent a wolf in his master’s clothes.  136
  A shudder like that of the deer when he sees the hounds again upon his track.  137
  Slinking … like a sad and humiliated man.  138
  Slow, like a bell.  139
  A grim smile, like lion that has found a way of exit.  140
  Smile like morning gold.  141
  Her smile was such as a sultan might, in a blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold gems had enriched.  142
  Snarling like the hound a wolf has checked.  143
  Soft as the division in the wool of a sheep.  144
  Solitary as a tomb.  145
  Sombre like a cathedral.  146
  Staggered … like a child that is just allowed to go alone.  147
  Staggers, like a sinking mast.  148
  Still as a pool.  149
  Stormy as a multitude.  150
  The strides of the lame are like the glances of the one-eyed; they do not speedily reach their aim.  151
  The ocean strikes like a lion with its heavy paw, seizing and dismembering at the same moment.  152
  Struggle, like a wild, frantic bird that is rending its plumage in its desperation.  153
  Struggling like black spirits in hell.  154
  Stubborn as a stone.  155
  Stubborn people are like reproaches, and we have a right to laugh at them.  156
  Sublime … as the combats of Homer.  157
  Supple as water.  158
  Swayed … as the sling swings its projectile.  159
  Swaying like a reed.  160
  Swears like an imp.  161
  Sweet as a rosebud crowned with moss.  162
  Sweet as music.  163
  Swinging like a reed in the air.  164
  Tangled in the Past, like a bird in a snare.  165
  Tears like pears.  166
  Terrifying as the monologue of a storm.  167
  So thin that he was obliged to put lead in his shoes so as to not be blown away by the wind.  168
  Trapped like bears in a pit.  169
  Trembles like a reed in flower.  170
  Trembled in the social anxiety like leaves at the approach of the storm.  171
  Trembling, like Paris, on the brink of an obscure and formidable revolution.  172
  Tremulous as a nest.  173
  Trilled at the rising sun almost like a stag which inhales the universal love and feels the April sap mounting and boiling in his veins.  174
  Trimmed like Alexandrine verses.  175
  Trumpeted like figures of Fame.  176
  Turbulent as is the ocean.  177
  Turn, as upon pivots.  178
  Twisted like a rope.  179
  Twisted in the maw of the wave like the angler’s hook in the jaws of a pike.  180
  Long seaweed undulated beneath the water, like the waving of long tresses in the wind.  181
  Unsteady on his legs, like a young roe scared by a leaf.  182
  Useful as the useful.  183
  Vanished like the beautiful sparkling hoarfrost.  184
  Vanish together, as a dream of morning flies.  185
        Vanish like a fleeting dream,
The shadow of a chariot, or flash of sword.
  More venomous than the asp or the blue spider.  187
  Void of sense as the movement of the trees and the sound of the winds.  188
  His fair hair waved backward like that of the angel upon his sombre car of stars.  189
  White as a chicken.  190
  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.  191
  Yawns like a grave in a cemetery.  192
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