A basic definition of analogy is the comparison between two objects, ideas or concepts. In language an analogy can often be easily spotted as it utilizes either “like” or “as to” in the phrase. For example, “this meat tastes like chicken”, wherein the taste of the unknown meat is being compared to the taste of chicken. Analogies are also very useful in scientific and deductive reasoning.
Definition of Analogy Example
An example would be, “violet is to flower as lion is to animal.” Analogy compares the source object which is familiar to the observer to the target object which may be unfamiliar. While this is a basic analogy definition use of analogies underpins most scientific experimentation and many aspects of our basic thought process.
Analogy vs Metaphor
A common mistake people make is confusing a metaphor with an analogy. While a metaphor is also a linguistic comparison between two different objects, it is not an analogy. A metaphor is a comparison between two objects which may not be obviously similar but are nonetheless being shown to exhibit like characteristics. For example, “My home is a castle”. While the home is not literally a castle, the comparison is being made to express either the idea of the home’s great size or the concept of the owner’s domain. Often the easiest way to distinguish between an analogy and a metaphor is the presence or absence of the phrase “like”. This however is not an absolute rule and careful attention should be paid to the nature of the relationship between the two objects or concepts being compared.
Use of analogies occurs in almost every thought process we undertake, many times without our reflecting too much upon it. Whether it is deciding what to eat or which road to take, we often engage in reasoning which is at its heart analogous thinking. The comparison between two or multiple objects or words is the basic example. However, when we extrapolate the endings of words based on similarly spelled words or roots we are using an analogy to reach a conclusion as to the ending of a word which perhaps has not been previously encountered. It can also lead to incorrect analogies as well. For example, if we know that the plural of bear is bears, the plural of cat is cats, we might analogize that the plural of goose is gooses instead of geese. It is important to understand what an analogy is and how it differs from a metaphor and the ways in which an analogy can sometimes lead to a false conclusion.