analogy

noun
anal·​o·​gy | \ ə-ˈna-lə-jē How to pronounce analogy (audio) \
plural analogies

Definition of analogy

1a : 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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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."

Examples of analogy in a Sentence

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 Judt, New York Book Review, 10 Apr. 2003 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. Dvorak, PC Magazine, 4 Apr. 2000 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 Gabler, Life: The Movie, 1998 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 & Telescope, January 1995
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Recent Examples on the Web She's explained complex health concepts with analogies: Swiss cheese, stars in space, extinguishing a fire on your stovetop. Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati.com, "Why Ohio is leading the U.S. response to coronavirus," 14 Mar. 2020 The cosmologist Lee Smolin carried the biological analogy even further, speculating that inside black holes, universes may give rise to baby universes, each with slightly different laws and constants from its parent. Quanta Magazine, "Did the Chicken Come First or Is It Turtles All the Way Down?," 6 Feb. 2020 The BioScience paper draws an analogy to injecting a drop of black ink into a beaker of water. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Clustering pattern of Azteca ant colonies may be due to a Turing mechanism," 2 Jan. 2020 But the analogy to an early-stage investigation should not be taken too far. Noah Feldman, Twin Cities, "Noah Feldman: The Trump impeachment inquiry should become public," 19 Oct. 2019 There’s the democratic analogy, which is the community of initial citizens comes together and uses some collaborative decision-making process to create the initial rules. Gregory Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "‘Facebook-topia’: Why we may soon live on corporate island-nations," 29 Aug. 2019 An analogy for this resistance to destruction is the advice often doled out about financial investing, says study author Matthew Knope, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Emily Willingham, Scientific American, "Ability to Take on Diverse Roles May Be Key to Which Animals Survive Mass Extinction," 28 Feb. 2020 But while the analogy is understandable, His House has its own unique valence, one specific to the British and African settings where its story unfolds. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'His House': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 4 Feb. 2020 The analogy is floating on the surface, offering itself up to anyone who stops to consider the situation, even for a moment. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Erasure of Political History at the National Archives," 19 Jan. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of analogy

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for analogy

see analogous

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Time Traveler for analogy

Time Traveler

The first known use of analogy was in the 15th century

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Statistics for analogy

Last Updated

18 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Analogy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/analogy. Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for analogy

analogy

noun
How to pronounce analogy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of analogy

: 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

noun
anal·​o·​gy | \ ə-ˈna-lə-jē \
plural analogies

Kids Definition of analogy

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.

analogy

noun
anal·​o·​gy | \ ə-ˈnal-ə-jē How to pronounce analogy (audio) \
plural analogies

Medical Definition of analogy

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

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Comments on analogy

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