analogy

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

Essential Meaning of analogy

1 : a comparison of two things based on their being alike in some way He drew/made an analogy between flying a kite and fishing. [=he compared flying a kite to fishing; he said that flying a kite was like fishing]
2 : the act of comparing two things that are alike in some way coining new words by analogy to/with existing ones [=coining new words so that they are formed in a way similar to old ones] reasoning by analogy

Full 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 The whole my-body-myself argument doesn’t in any way hold up as an analogy. Washington Post, 5 Oct. 2021 That’s an excellent analogy for change at any company. Mark O’donnell, Forbes, 16 Sep. 2021 In 1884, Edwin Abbott wrote the popular satirical novel Flatland, which used two-dimensional beings encountering a character from the third dimension as an analogy to help readers comprehend the fourth dimension. Quanta Magazine, 13 Sep. 2021 Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, offered an analogy. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 11 Sep. 2021 To steal an analogy from Bears coach Matt Nagy, now it’s about leaving the flight simulator and attempting to fly an actual plane. Dan Wiederer, chicagotribune.com, 8 Sep. 2021 The PGA Tour has reached its Super Bowl or its Game 7, an appropriate analogy only because the Tour Championship is the final event of the FedEx Cup season. BostonGlobe.com, 1 Sep. 2021 To highlight the computational mechanism, consider an analogy with superfluid helium. Stephon Alexander, Wired, 31 Aug. 2021 The show makes an analogy: cooking with good ingredients for a good meal means a good life. New York Times, 20 Aug. 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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Dictionary Entries Near analogy

analogue computer

analogy

analogy test

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Statistics for analogy

Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Analogy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/analogy. Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for analogy

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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