762: Analogies

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 15:21, 29 September 2013 by (talk) (corrected title text)
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"I just call all of them 'synecdoche'."
Title text: "I just call all of them 'synecdoche'."


This comic revolves around the similarities (and differences) between the concepts of "Analogy", "Simile" and "Metaphor" (and "Synecdoche").

The dictionary defines a "metaphor" as a figure of speech that uses one thing to mean another and makes a comparison between the two. For example, Shakespeare's line, "All the world's a stage," is a metaphor comparing the whole world to a theater stage. Metaphors can be very simple, and they can function as most any part of speech. "The spy shadowed the woman" is a verb metaphor. The spy doesn't literally cast his shadow on the woman, but he follows her so closely and quietly that he resembles her own shadow.

A "simile", also called an open comparison, is a form of metaphor that compares two different things to create a new meaning. But a simile always uses "like" or "as" within the phrase and is more explicit than a metaphor. For example, Shakespeare's line could be rewritten as a simile to read: "The world is like a stage." Another simile would be: "The spy was close as a shadow." Both metaphor and simile can be used to enhance writing.

An "analogy" is a bit more complicated. At the most basic level, an analogy shows similarity between things that might seem different — much like an extended metaphor or simile. But analogy isn't just a form of speech. It can be a logical argument: if two things are alike in some ways, they are alike in some other ways as well. Analogy is often used to help provide insight by comparing an unknown subject to one that is more familiar. It can also show a relationship between pairs of things. This form of analogy is often used on standardized tests in the form "A is to B as C is to D".

"Synecdoche" is the naming the whole of something by referring to a part, or vice versa. E.g. using "the Internet" when meaning "the World Wide Web", which is only a part of it; or using "Band-Aid" when referring to any adhesive bandage.


[Two men sit in front of the TV, one on the couch, the other on the floor. Megan stands by the TV set.]
Megan: While I'm up, does anyone want a sandwich?
Cueball: Is "sandwich" a metaphor?
Megan: No, I'm bad at metaphors. But I could try a simile.
Cueball: I guess that's like a metaphor. Sure.
[As Megan starts to walk away, the men continue to speak.]
Friend: Well, "a simile is like a metaphor" is a simile.
Cueball: Is that simile itself a metaphor for something?
Friend: Maybe it's a metaphor for analogy.
[The two men are still sitting in the same place while Megan is out of the panel.]
Cueball: Similes are metaphors in that they're both analogies.
Megan: Analogies are like sandwiches in that I'm making one now.

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Surprised he said synecdoche instead of metonymy, which to me seems slightly more appropriate. What a terrible mess such devices are. I'm content memorizing 114 chemical symbols and the names and capitals of 196 generally recognized sovereign nations, but not the ~200 items on this list of tropes and schemes. --Quicksilver (talk) 01:50, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Unfortunately, nobody was any the wiser after hearing this. 

The analogy from Einstein would have been well understood as cats whiskers were familiar radio sets in before valves became cheap enough for anyone to afford a modern radio. They were difficult to tune and quickly lost contact. It is a very good analogy.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 22:07, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

It seems highly likely that the opening lines of whether sandwich was a metaphor had to do with threesomes - i.e. a "sandwich" of a woman between two men. -- 07:57, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Agreed --Kynde (talk) 20:30, 23 April 2018 (UTC)

Ahh, meta! SilverMagpie (talk) 22:20, 3 July 2017 (UTC)

Neither of the examples of synecdoche is very good. When I use the web I am literally using the internet, since the web is a layer residing on top of the internet. A person who thinks of the web as just an interface to the internet, and the internet as the more important layer, might say they were using the internet without having any synecdochal or metonymic intent. And a band-aid is not part of a bandage, it's an example of a bandage. Wikipedia has lots of better examples. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think synecdoche should be the official linguistic phenomenon of Schenectady, New York. Two words I may never learn to pronounce correctly as a native Californian... -- 15:25, 31 October 2018 (UTC)

Couldn't sandwich also refer to the "sandwich" from the series How I met your mother: https://how-i-met-your-mother.fandom.com/wiki/Eating_a_Sandwich