I've been sometimes a little confused on how direct personification must be. For example, consider the following phrase used to describe a river:

Like a snake it winds through the craggy mountainside.

Is that simply an analogy comparing a snake to a river, or is it an instance of personification/anthropomorphism?


Personification and anthropomorphism refer to representation of something as a human being.

In the presented sentence there's no mention of anything human; the noun phrases are a snake and the craggy mountainside.

Look for the human image before you suspect personification or anthropomorphism.

  • Ah, got it. That makes sense, a mistake on my end. – Alexis King Feb 15 '12 at 1:10
  • A metaphor is when you say something is something.
  • Similes mean a something that is like another something.
  • Personification is when you make a thing, idea, or an animal do something only a human can do.

In the phrase, "Like a snake it winds through the craggy mountainside," like is the giveaway; it's a simile.


Firstly, if there were a counterpart of personification for living beings in general, that would have been what the OP intended to say.

Secondly, if the sentence was instead:

it snakes through the craggy mountainside.

or even:

it winds through the craggy mountainside, hissing now and then.

You know it is akin to personification.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.