Tuesday, 17 August 2010 09:01

On The Edge of Common Sense Animal Similes

Written by  Baxter Black, DVM
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Animals have many uses. Traditionally, they are discussed as to their purpose; i.e., a source of meat, milk or as a beast of burden. Other categories include, as a pet, as a show steer or dog, or possibly as an object of worship like Free Willy.

But one of the most significant ways in which animals have contributed to the civilization of mankind is as a simile or metaphor; strong as a lion, graceful as a gazelle, sly as a fox, crazy as a loon, nosy as an elephant, cute as a bug’s ear. Certain animals convey feeling; gentle as a kitten, mad as a hatter, fat as a tick, slicker than silk pajamas on a garter snake.


Plant life also offers itself up as subjects for metaphor and simile, but plants never seem to have the same dramatic effect; they fought like apples and oranges! Quit squashing around! A jello mold in the hand is worth two in the bush! What’s good for the kumquat is good for the kudzu! The Trojan radish! The kelp whisperer! The dandelion king! See? Flora just lacks the zip that fauna can deliver.

There are those times in our lives when we are surprised, insulted, derided or kidded, and we need the perfect animal rejoinder, unfortunately the attacker walks away with a smirk because we couldn’t think of one. Snappy animal comebacks are useful in the category of ‘damning with faint praise.’ I offer these examples for your consideration: Smart as: a trainload of sheep; a wheelbarrow of turkeys; a busload of animal crackers; or a bucket of nightcrawlers.

Or...Witty as a team of oxen, charming as a fruit bat, clever as a cedar stump, cuddly as a centipede, ethical as a congress of millers; regular as a three-toed sloth, deep as a housefly’s thoughts, loyal as a fruit salad, welcome as head lice, romantic as a hippo’s kiss and handy as wings on a liver fluke!

See how much nicer animal similes are than just saying, “Sometimes Baxter’s dumber than boiled gravel.”

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