She didn’t reply; just stared at us vacantly. She might as well have been observing two squirrels that had invaded her yard.

As you can see, the action stare/observe has so be repeated for the metaphor to work. Is that a sign of a bad metaphor?

Should I write this instead?

She didn’t reply; just stared at us vacantly. I suddenly felt as if we were two squirrels that had invaded her yard.

  • Actually, these seem to be more of similes than metaphors...
    – SF.
    Nov 5, 2014 at 7:31
  • @SF. I think a simile is a type of metaphor: google.com.tw/…
    – wyc
    Nov 5, 2014 at 7:55
  • 1
    ...also, I wouldn't say such repeating makes it a bad simile. It certainly makes it weaker, less expressive, but I wouldn't go as far as "bad".
    – SF.
    Nov 5, 2014 at 10:01
  • 2
    A simile is an explicit comparison, often with comparative particle ("as", "like"): "Thou art more lovely than a summer day". Think of the sentence as a mathematical formula: you > summer day, or: we = squirrels. In a metaphor, one structural relation is replaced by another: (a) light provides warmth and illumination, (b) love provides emotional well-being, => metaphor: "Lolita, light of my life, ...".
    – user5645
    Nov 5, 2014 at 12:05
  • 1
    How about: We might as well have been squirrels gathering acorns in her yard, for all she cared. Or change the ownership of the metaphor: I've paid closer attention to squirrels rummaging in my yard. (Although, personally I find squirrels funny and interesting, and like to watch them. So your metaphor/simile doesn't work too well for me.)
    – dmm
    Nov 6, 2014 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


Is that a sign of a bad metaphor?

No. It's fine.

And of course you're the author - it's up to you what you write. From this point of view there are no 'bad' metaphors.

But I know what you mean and no, your example would not usually be considered poor English usage.

You may be thinking of (in-)elegant variation or pleonasm.

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