I am trying to explain that health is not simply determined by biological factors. Instead it is shaped by a whole host of variables: lifestyle, education, culture, attitudes, socio-economic factors etc. I wanted to use a powerful simile or metaphor to elucidate the point and make for a more interesting read. So I would like a simile that succinctly demonstrates the idea that one entity is being shaped from a wide variety of factors.

How could I write this sentence?

  • Look at these terms. "Multifactorial." "Stochastic" (rather than "deterministic"). "Crucible"
    – SAH
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 23:01

7 Answers 7


I prefer using "multifaceted" for these types of descriptions.

adjective: multifaceted; adjective: multi-faceted

having many sides.
"the diamond's multifaceted surface"
having many different aspects or features.
"his extraordinary and multifaceted career"

How about saying something related to a urban space or geography. Is not only the force of nature that dictates the landscape. Weather conditions like rain or wind can shape it but an additional factor,humans, have greatly influenced the landscape.


I might go with something like this:

A proper symphony is not merely the violins nor trumpets nor the score, but it requires the sum of these and many other components to enact the whole. In the same way, health cannot be understood merely in terms of biology but rather refers to a complex system that includes not only health but also ...

Similar analogies could be made to a lot of different things -- each with their own limits.


Biological factors are just one variety of flowers in the bouquet that is health.


Here is a quote from Mao Zedong "little red book":

In this world, things are complicated and are decided by many factors. We should look at problems from different aspects, not from just one.

  • "On the Chungking Negotiations'' (October 17, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 54.

From Wikipedia:

The melting pot is a metaphor for a heterogeneous society becoming more homogeneous, the different elements "melting together" into a harmonious whole with a common culture.

It is particularly used to describe the assimilation of immigrants to the United States....


There are many examples of systems that are composed of a confluence of factors, any of which could be used as an analogy for your scenario. It's a bit out of scope for EL&U to ask questions that don't really have a definitive answer; the answer to your question is really a matter of preference.

In my opinion analogies shouldn't be forced. If an analogy comes to mind and you think it might help users to grasp a concept then use it. If you are using it just to say "my concept has many factors just like this other concept that also has many factors" then it isn't adding much.

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