analogy

noun
anal·​o·​gy | \ə-ˈna-lə-jē \
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

Given his life to that point, McKellen could draw a clear analogy. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "In new documentary, Ian McKellen reflects on Magneto, Gandalf," 8 July 2018 One of the researchers, Sune Lehmann of the Technical University of Denmark, draws an analogy. The Economist, "At any given time in their lives, people have two dozen regular haunts," 28 June 2018 The implicit argument here is that if Trump doesn’t mirror Nazi Germany in every detail, there is no analogy to be made. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "How much credit should we give Trump for not annexing Austria?," 20 June 2018 Players used a port-a-potty, and there is an analogy to be made there. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: Trump kicks the NFL, Chiefs fans are cocky (?) and Mahomes' endorsements," 5 June 2018 These words also suggest healing analogies: mending injuries, reknitting fractures, reassembling tissues. Alison Kinney, Longreads, "The Man in the Mirror," 10 Mar. 2018 Enright has a wealth of analogies like that, acquired in the seven years he’s been coaching baseball since his playing career ended. Dave Melton, Post-Tribune, "Oilmen manager Adam Enright ready to take first college head coaching job at Missouri Valley," 23 June 2018 Shoring up the base, to use a political analogy, may be an effective short-term tack. Eric Armstrong, New Republic, "Mormonism’s Crisis of Faith," 12 Jan. 2018 This year, Plain says, the Rhode Island candidates who might embrace that analogy are state Representative Aaron Regunberg, who is launching a primary challenge to Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee, and Matt Brown, a Democratic candidate for governor. James Pindell, BostonGlobe.com, "Suddenly every Democrat is the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Just ask them," 13 July 2018

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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Learn More about analogy

Statistics for analogy

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for analogy

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

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More Definitions for analogy

analogy

noun

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 \
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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