Why would someone who is fit be compared to a fiddle? Is it the slim waistline that the violin possesses? Is it the rowing machine that the fiddle uses?
Of course not. Originally, "fit" meant fitting or suitable. Apparently, in some situations, a fiddle is the only correct -- or fitting -- instrument to use. Not a zither, not a tuba, not a xylophone.
But, somewhere along the line, the phrase "fit as a fiddle" came to mean "in good shape."
Of course it's more efficient to brag that you are simply fit. But the folksier way is to use a simile.
Fit as a fiddle is a simile because it compares things, using the word "as." Other similes use the word "like," or other words, in their comparisons.
Many similes follow this pattern: "as (adjective or descriptive word) as (noun or thing)." Consider these:
as white as snow
as busy as a bee
as stubborn as a mule
as proud as a peacock
as red as a beet
as clear as day
Those examples make sense, because associating the trait mentioned with that item isn't a leap.
She must be embarrassed, because her face is as red as a beet.
The day his daughter was born, he was proud as a peacock.
Once the Legos container was open, the toddler was as busy as a bee and quiet as a mouse.
Similes are commonly formed using alliteration -- the repetition of the first sound in words strung together. Some of those are questionable:
as blind as a bat (bats can see)
as dead as a door nail (the lifespan of a door nail is zero)
as pretty as a picture (what if it's a picture of tooth decay?)
as thick as thieves (I can't judge this one.)
Still other similes are simply odd and leave you wondering who came up with them:
as long as my arm (wouldn't a leg be longer?)
as fine as frog hair
as happy as a pig eating pancakes
as scarce as snake hips
tall like a giraffe (are giraffes tall to other giraffes?)
Robert Burns wrote, "My love is like a red, red rose." (Sounds thorny.)
And then we have the intentionally bad similes. The Washington Post received some doozies when it ran a contest in 1999 called "The Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay.''
McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy! comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30.
Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
You have to admire imaginative people.
'Tis the season for holiday cliches. Do not succumb.
It's difficult to make it through December without hearing a news story beginning like this:
Christmas came early for Johnny Walker. He had been saving for a new bicycle but instead won a lottery jackpot that will allow him to buy a fleet of bicycles.
Council members said "Bah humbug" to the request for holiday lights on the Town Hall tree.
And it's nearly impossible to get through an hour of TV watching without hearing a commercial voice-over begin with, "It's the holidays ...."
We know it's the holidays. Do we need constant reminders?
And to all a good night.
Sources: phrases.org.uk, American Heritage Dictionary, bartleby.com, siskiyous.edu, etni.org.il
Reach Bernadette at
ActiveStyle on 12/11/2017
Print Headline: Be folksy and talk in similes