At first sight I would say it is a metaphor, but after some thought I'm not sure anymore. The parallel is not so exact between the two objects, since the speed of a computer usually refers to the response speed(or more technically, measured in terms of frequency), while the speed of a rocket usually refers to the traveling speed. A more conventional metaphor is like "The boy runs as fast as a rocket.", so what is "The computer runs as fast as a rocket."?

  • I think writers don't have to be computer engineers to distinguish between the two types of speeds.
    – Stan
    May 27, 2013 at 16:26
  • 3
    The term you are looking for is "broken metaphor". Rockets don't run. /thread
    – RegDwigнt
    May 27, 2013 at 17:05
  • It's a metaphor/ simile, simple and straight. Neither really runs. Both 'run' in their own way. The use of 'run' is a smart choice of a word that collocates with both 'computer' and 'rocket', though in a subtly difference sense.
    – Kris
    May 28, 2013 at 7:00
  • @RegDwighт: what's the meaning of "broken metaphor"? Does it mean "lousy metaphor"?
    – Jia Yiyang
    May 28, 2013 at 10:56
  • 1
    No, not just lousy; actually broken. Rocket doesn't collocate with run anywhere as well as Kris would have you believe. It collocates with fly or move. A rocket can run out of fuel, at best. For computers, on the other hand, run is the verb of choice. Running is all they do. So saying "The computer runs as fast as a rocket" is on par with saying "Christopher Lee keeps making films as fast as a rocket", or "My wife buys shoes as fast as a rocket" or "I drink vodka as fast as a rocket". It's not lousy; it's nonsense.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 28, 2013 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


I don't think the fact that you're not talking about literal speed matters. In fact, you could say that the use of the term speed in the context of computers is a metaphor itself - but this dooes not affect the comparison with the rocket.

Regarding the comparison with the rocket: both your examples - the computer runs as fast as a rocket and the boy runs as fast as a rocket are the same, but they are not metaphors. They are in fact similes, due to the use of the comparative phrase as fast as. Had you said the computer is a rocket, that would have been a metaphor, though arguably not a very good one!

  • 1
    I agree; rockets are fast, so is this computer. That said, if I wanted to make the comparison, I'd probably phrase it more like this: "The computer runs fast, like a rocket," or maybe even, "The computer runs rocket-fast."
    – J.R.
    May 27, 2013 at 23:34
  • Just one doubt, isn't simile a special kind of metaphor? This is what I learnt from this post <a href="english.stackexchange.com/questions/3868/…>
    – Jia Yiyang
    May 28, 2013 at 11:02
  • @JiaYiyang apparently so. Most of us, however, were taught that similes and metaphors are different and had teachers frown on us when we confused them.
    – terdon
    May 28, 2013 at 12:28
  • @JiaYiyang, interesting, I've never come across similes defined as a type of metaphor. Either way, simile is a more accurate description, as it is more specific.
    – Caesar
    May 28, 2013 at 16:50
  • Computers are rockets is a great metaphor!
    – spinkus
    Dec 14, 2016 at 1:44

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