noun anal·o·gy \ ə-ˈna-lə-jē \
|Updated on: 6 Aug 2018

Definition of analogy

plural analogies
1 a : a comparison of two otherwise unlike things based on resemblance of a particular aspect
b : resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike : similarity
2 : inference that if two or more things agree with one another in some respects they will probably agree in others
3 : correspondence between the members of pairs or sets of linguistic forms that serves as a basis for the creation of another form
4 : correspondence in function between anatomical parts of different structure and origin — compare homology

Examples of analogy in a Sentence

  1. He does, though, suffer from the occupational deformation of international relations specialists: an enthusiasm for ransacking the past in search of precedents, analogies, patterns, and cycles that might explain the present and forecast the future. —Tony JudtNew York Book Review10 Apr. 2003
  2. People who do this call themselves "white-hat" hackers—good people who show other people their vulnerabilities. Take the following analogy: I've designed a great new lock pick, and I'm going to give this great new gadget away to show everyone that the typical door lock is ineffective against my new pick. —John C. DvorakPC Magazine4 Apr. 2000
  3. It has often been said that movie stars are the royalty of America. (The better analogy, really, is that the royals are the movie stars of Britain.) —Neal GablerLife: The Movie1998
  4. Parts of the far-infrared sky look like colonies of spiders gone mad. The fine structure seen there is called cirrus, by analogy with filamentary clouds on Earth. —Virginia Trimble et al.Sky & TelescopeJanuary 1995

Recent Examples of analogy from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'analogy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Digging Into the Most Common Meaning of analogy

In its most common use, analogy has to do with comparison of things based on those things being alike in some way. For example, one can make or draw an analogy between the seasons of the year and the stages of life. People also reason by way of analogy, asserting, for example, that abandoning a project is like leaving a house partway built. Although an analogy can be summarized quickly, as in these examples, an analogy actually encompasses the comparison or inference itself, and is therefore different from figures of speech, like metaphors and similes, which are forms of expression.

Some tests ask you to identify analogies, finding the second of a pair that has the same relationship as a completed pair. Analogy tests often look like this:

ice : cold :: steel : ____

a. hard b. loud c. fresh d. small

Because the relationship between ice and cold is that coldness is a quality of ice, the word that goes with steel is hard, since hardness is a quality of steel.

The word analogy (which comes from analogous) traces back by way of Latin to a Greek word meaning "proportionate." That word has a root in the Greek word logos, meaning "reason."

Origin and Etymology of analogy

Synonym Discussion of analogy

likeness, similarity, resemblance, similitude, analogy mean agreement or correspondence in details. likeness implies a closer correspondence than similarity which often implies that things are merely somewhat alike.
    • a remarkable likeness to his late father
    • some similarity between the two cases
resemblance implies similarity chiefly in appearance or external qualities.
    • statements that bear little resemblance to the truth
similitude applies chiefly to correspondence between abstractions.
    • two schools of social thought showing points of similitude
analogy implies likeness or parallelism in relations rather than in appearance or qualities.
    • pointed out analogies to past wars

ANALOGY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of analogy for English Language Learners

  • : a comparison of two things based on their being alike in some way

  • : the act of comparing two things that are alike in some way

ANALOGY Defined for Kids


noun anal·o·gy \ ə-ˈna-lə-jē \

Definition of analogy for Students

plural analogies
1 : a comparison of things based on ways they are alike
  • He made an analogy between flying and surfing.
2 : the act of comparing things that are alike in some way
  • She explained by analogy.

Medical Dictionary


noun anal·o·gy \ ə-ˈnal-ə-jē \

medical Definition of analogy

plural analogies
: functional similarity between anatomical parts without similarity of structure and origin — compare homology 1

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