Word Game: Similes

Pic from baldworm.blogspot.com

A few weeks ago, I blogged about an alphabet game I found in a book published in 1940 called The Fun Encyclopedia. My father passed this book to me, and with it another book (which my grandfather originally owned) called The Complete Book of Games by Clement Wood and Gloria Goddard, which also came out a whopping 72 years ago.

The red binding is cracked, the pages are a yellowish-tan, and some of the games are outdated (for instance, one about sending telegrams). However, there are still some gems in this treasured gift.

Here’s another Amaze-ing Words Wednesday treat! A word game based on similes. In fact, this is the party game played in The Christmas Carol (1984) by guests at the party hosted by Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew. (In fact, the one simile I found in Dickens’s original novella was the sentence “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”)

So the rules are simply this. A simile is presented. (Random House Dictionary defines a simile as “a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared.” The two unrelated things are connected by the words “as,” “like,” or “than.”) The adjective is stated, but you must fill in the comparative noun, and the word “as” is always used. An example (which you should all know if you listened to Foreigner):  Cold as _____. [ice]

Now let’s see how you do with the following similes from The Complete Book of Games (1940):

  1. Black as ____________.
    Pic from myteachingspirit.blogspot.com
  2. Blind as a ___________.
  3. Busy as a ___________.
  4. Clean as a __________.
  5. Clear as  ___________.
  6. Dry as a ___________.
  7. Fit as a ____________.
  8. Flat as a ___________.
  9. Good as ___________.
  10. Light as a __________.
  11. Mad as a __________.
  12. Neat as a __________.
  13. Pretty as a _________.
  14. Quick as __________.
  15. Sharp as a _________.
  16. Slow as  __________.
  17. Stiff as a __________.
  18. Thick as __________.
  19. Ugly as ___________.
  20. White as __________.

Answers (some have several options):

  1. Black as coal/night/pitch/sin.
    Pic from buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com
  2. Blind as a bat.
  3. Busy as a bee.
  4. Clean as a whistle.
  5. Clear as a bell/crystal/daylight.
  6. Dry as a bone.
  7. Fit as a fiddle.
  8. Flat as a pancake.
  9. Good as gold.
  10. Light as a feather.
  11. Mad as a hatter/March hare.
  12. Neat as a pin.
  13. Pretty as a picture.
  14. Quick as lightning/a wink.
  15. Sharp as a razor (not mentioned in the book, but I’ve also heard “sharp as a tack.”)
  16. Slow as a tortoise/molasses in January (I would have said “turtle“; surely that counts.)
  17. Stiff as a board/poker.
  18. Thick as molasses/thieves.
  19. Ugly as sin.
  20. White as snow.

There were many more similes provided in the book. Indeed, some are outdated. For instance, has anyone ever heard the following?

  • Full as a tick.
  • Mean as gar broth.
  • Plain as a pikestaff.
  • Stupid as an ostrich.
  • Safe as the Bank of England.

I hadn’t.

Similes are wonderful! They help us clarify an adjective by bringing up a visual image of something we can compare it to. There are the ones we have all heard, and the ones authors come up with on their own. It’s a lot of fun as a writer to try to come up with a simile that expresses a situation or a character’s emotion.

What are your favorite similes? How did you do on the quiz? Do you enjoy creative similes in fiction?

The Fun Encyclopedia: Alphabet Game

My father recently went through his library (which is extensive). He came across a few old books he no longer wanted and offered them to me. Skimming through the pages, they looked interesting, so I carried the books home . . . and promptly put them on a shelf.

Last week, I finally started sifting through the books. One of them was published in 1940 and is titled The Fun Encyclopedia. Now you gotta up open a book that has the brass to be called THE Fun Encyclopedia. As it turns out, the book is chock full of hobbies, games, crafts, sports, music, magic, and party ideas. Some activities are outdated, but plenty are still worthy of the adjective “fun”!

Now I love fun games with language (e.g., Tom Swifties). So for today’s Amaze-ing Words Wednesday, I feature one of the alphabet games from the book written by E.O. Harbin 72 years ago. By the way, this book is subtitled — I kid you not! — “A Comprehensive, All-purpose, Entertainment Plan-book for the Home, Club, School, Church, and Playground.” Wow, that’s a mouthful, people.

The following is a quiz for which the answer is a word that can be expressed with a single letter. Here’s an example: A body part? I

See how you do with the rest of them. Answers are given below.

  1. A drink?
  2. A body of water?
  3. An exclamation?
  4. A female sheep?
  5. An insect?
  6. A bird?
  7. An actor’s signal?
  8. A query?

Answers: 1. T,  2. C,  3. O,  4. U,  5. B,  6. J,  7. Q,  8. Y

Now that you’ve got the hang of it, let’s try a few two-letter words! Example: Surpass? XL

  1. Chilly?
  2. Too much?
  3. Rot?
  4. Not hard?
  5. Jealousy?
  6. Tent?
  7. Composition?

Answers: 1. IC,  2. XS,  3. DK,  4. EZ,  5. NV,  6. TP,  7. SA

And here’s a bonus for those doing great with this mental exercise (or those willing to give a shot anyway): Three-letter words.

  1. Happiness?
  2. A small boy has lots of?
  3. A foe?

Answers: 1. XTC,  2. NRG,  3. NME

Perhaps you aren’t as giddy as I am after that brief stretching of our brain’s language center, but try these out on your friends or kids. See if you can stump them (now that you know all of the answers).

How did you do? Can you think of any other examples of words represented by one, two, or three letters? (Wouldn’t you open up a book called The Fun Encyclopedia?)