Is this a metaphor or simile?

You'll get kicked out of the Saloon faster than a card shark can shuffle.

  • 1
    Yes, it's one of those. Which one depends on what they told you the difference was. If they said it's a simile if it contains like, then it's not a simile. Otherwise, there's no real difference. Feb 13, 2019 at 23:53
  • I'd say it's a proportionality. A leads to B in a comparable (not necessarily equal) way to C giving rise to D. The 'faster' makes this also a simile. // As comparisons between very different sets are made, metaphor in its most general sense must also be involved. Apr 20, 2021 at 11:13

1 Answer 1


It's neither. There is no figurative language used here. A card shark is understood to be a fast shuffler, so the comparison is used for rhetorical effect. But it's not figurative. The reference presumably refers literally to the time it takes a card shark to shuffle.

  • So an analogy then?
    – Mitch
    Feb 14, 2019 at 3:22
  • I'd say it's still figurative because the speaker isn't threatening the person they'll be thrown out of the saloon faster than it literally takes a card sharp to shuffle cards, it's a figurative way to say really quickly. Though the two relevant parts of comparison are both literal time, the statement is not to be taken literally exactly because no one knows how long the card shuffle lasts, and also because even if the shuffle lasted 4 seconds, for example, that's most likely not enough time to escort the person to the doors and throw them out, meaning it's an exaggeration, and so figurative.
    – Zebrafish
    Feb 14, 2019 at 4:17
  • It's not figurative at all. It's literally saying the time it takes to get thrown out is less than the time it takes for a card shark to shuffle cards. It's not an analogy, not a metaphor, and not a simile. It's just a plain old comparison, possibly idiomatic (if you please) but not figurative.
    – R Mac
    Feb 14, 2019 at 16:24
  • It invokes comparisons between very different situations (being ejected from a saloon; shuffling cards) which is certainly sufficient to satisfy the broadest sense of metaphor. 'John is like a tiger' is a metaphor (obviously, the 'like' in this variant renders the format that of a simile). Simplistic dichotomies are not accepted by linguists. Apr 20, 2021 at 11:17
  • @EdwinAshworth A metaphor is a word or phrase applied to a thing to which the word or phrase is not literally applicable. "John is a tiger," includes a metaphor. "John can run 100m faster than a tiger can," doesn't. You could argue that hyperbole is applicable to the sentence in the question but not metaphor (because the phrase isn't being applied where it is not literally applicable) and not simile (because it's not saying the bouncer is like a card shark). It's just a literal comparison between a hypothetical duration and a known duration.
    – R Mac
    Apr 20, 2021 at 17:14

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