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 evolutionary biology : correspondence or similarity in form or function between parts (such as the wings of birds and insects) of unrelated or distantly related species that is the result of convergent evolution — compare homology, homoplasy

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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 Steinberg believes that Michelangelo sensed in this evolutionary story an analogy with his own struggles as an artist. Jed Perl, The New York Review of Books, "See More, Think More," 27 Apr. 2021 Coming from Sherman, president of the Ad Council, a public interest advertising association, an analogy to the mission to land the first human on the moon wasn’t empty Madison Avenue hype. David Montgomery, Washington Post, "How to Sell the Coronavirus Vaccines to a Divided, Uneasy America," 26 Apr. 2021 In the context of Wen Chang’s journey, Chiang said, basketball provides an apt analogy. oregonlive, "Follow the bouncing basketball through a story of history and identity in ‘The Great Leap’," 26 Apr. 2021 Rather than discussing whether prayer can heal, Father Allan Deck, a theology professor at Loyola Marymount University, shared an analogy and asked a question. Selene Rivera, Los Angeles Times, "An L.A. faith group believes prayer can help COVID patients, despite scientific skeptics," 9 Apr. 2021 Wozniak, director of the Minneapolis Fed's Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute, offered an analogy of the relief efforts to a lawn sprinkler. Kavita Kumar, Star Tribune, "Pandemic relief has worked fairly well but missed some people, Minneapolis Fed researchers say," 3 Apr. 2021 Taking an analogy from the book Quantitative Momentum written by Wesley Gray, Ph.D. and Jack Vogel, Ph.D., the authors give the example of a frog in a pot of boiling water. John P. Reese, Forbes, "Momentum Investing: Finding The Market’s Top Performing Stocks," 17 Mar. 2021 Consider an analogy from the beer industry: Imagine a 12-pack of Bud Light cans standing next to a single bottle of Heineken. Robin Feldman, STAT, "Make list price the touchstone for drug pricing across the supply chain," 23 Nov. 2020 Vitale explained the research and ensuing conclusion with the analogy of a spinning carousel. BostonGlobe.com, "‘We will never stop exploring,’ MIT astrophysicist says after some ultralight bosons shown not to impact two black holes," 16 Apr. 2021

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

Middle English analogie, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, borrowed from Latin analogia "ratio, proportion, correspondence in the inflection and derivation of words, the use of this correspondence in word derivation," borrowed from Greek analogía "proportion, relation, correspondence in the inflection and derivation of words," from análogos "proportionate, conformable, analogous" + -ia -y entry 2

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Learn More about analogy

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

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Analogy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/analogy. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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 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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