a point, feature, or detail in which two items are alike.
See Also: DISSIMILARITIES
- As alike as buttons on a shirt —Anon
- (We’re almost) as alike as eggs —William Shakespeare
Similes about things which tend to be uniform have and continue to inspire many “As alike as” comparisons. The other famous author most frequently credited for the “Alike as eggs” simile is Miguel de Cervantes with “As alike … as one egg is like another” from Don Quixote.
This simile has become so common that no “As alike” introduction is needed, as illustrated by, “Just like two drops of water,” used by Isaac Bashevis Singer in The Family Moskat to describe the resemblance between a mother and son.
Even in an age where more peas make their way to the dinner table from frozen food packages than pods, this now commonplace expression shows no sign of diminishing use. The form shown here has supplanted older and now little used versions such as, “Alike as two peas to one another” and, “As like each other as two peas.”
The simile as used by Ford in The Sportswriter describes modern parents whose lives are so lacking in mystery and difference that they are undifferentiated from their children.
chip off the old block A son who resembles his father in appearance or behavior. The expression is reputed to have been coined by Edmund Burke (1729-97) addressing the British House of Commons, speaking in reference to Pitt the Younger. However, a citation from the OED dates a similar phrase from the early 1.7th century.
Am not I a child of the same Adam … a chip of the same block, with him? (bp. Robert Sanderson, Sermons. 1627)
Chip off the old block is the modern form of the phrase; chip of the old or same block is the original. The allusion is obvious. A chip has the same characteristics as the block from which it comes. Any connection with “family tree” is amusing but doubtful.
copycat An imitator; one who copies another’s style or work. The term has been in use since the turn of the century.
A good architect was not a “copy-cat;” nor did he kick over the traces. (Oxford Times. April 24, 1931)
Copycat is occasionally used as a verb meaning ‘to imitate.’
follow in the footsteps To emulate; to follow the example or guidance of another; to imitate the performance of a predecessor. The implication here is that in order to be like a respected and admired person, one must follow his example, that is, follow in the figurative footsteps he took along his pathway to success.
You are obliged to follow the footsteps of your predecessors in virtue. (Complaint of Scotland. 1549)
A variation is walk in the footsteps. A similar expression dealing figuratively with the feet of a revered person is big or large shoes to fill. implying that substantial effort will be required to meet the standards established by a predecessor.
follow suit To imitate or emulate; to act in the same manner as one’s predecessor. This term is rooted in card games such as bridge or
setback where rules dictate that, if possible, a participant must follow suit, that is, play a card of the same suit as that which was led.
get on the bandwagon To support a particular candidate or cause, usually when success seems assured and no great risk is entailed; often climb aboard the bandwagon. In the era of political barnstorming, bandwagons carried the parade musicians. Theory has it that as candidate-carrying wagons moved through a district, local politicos would literally jump aboard those of favorite candidates, thus publicly endorsing them. The figurative use of bandwagon dates from the early 1900s:
Many of those Democrats … who rushed onto the Bryan band-wagon … will now be seen crawling over the tailboard. (New York Evening Post. September 4, 1906)
Though still most commonly associated with politics, bandwagon is used in other contexts as well:
The next serious outbreak was a three-cornered affair between the gangs of Joe Saltis (who had recently hopped on the Capone band-wagon) and “Dingbat” O’Berta. (Arthur B. Reeve, The Golden Age of Crime. 1931)
a man of my kidney A person whose character and disposition are similar to one’s own. In this expression, kidney carries its figurative meaning of nature, temperament, or constitution. The phrase appeared in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor:
Think of that, a man of my kidney; … that is as subject to heat as butter. (III, v)
This figurative use of kidney sometimes refers to kind or type of person.
It was a large and rather miscellaneous party, but all of the right kidney. (Benjamin Disraeli, Endymion. 1880)
play the ape To imitate, to copy someone’s style, to counterfeit. This expression alludes to the way apes mimic the expressions and gestures of human beings. It appeared in print by the 1500s. Robert Louis Stevenson popularized the expression in his Memories and Portraits (1882):
I have played the sedulous ape to Hazlitt, to Lamb, to Wordsworth, to Sir Thomas Browne…. That, like it or not, is the way to learn to write.
spit and image The exact likeness, image, or counterpart; a duplicate, a double; a chip off the old block. This expression implies that two people are so much alike (usually in appearance) that figuratively, at least, one could conceivably have been spit from the mouth of the other, an interesting concept especially in light of recent breakthroughs in the fields of genetics and cloning. Since an earlier expression was the very spit, image serves to emphasize the similarity in appearance.
She’s like the poor lady that’s dead and gone, the spit an’ image she is. (Egerton Castle, The Light of Scartney. 1895)
Variations are spitting image and spitten image .
take a page out of [someone’s] book To follow another’s example, to copy or imitate someone else; also to take a leaf out of [someone’s] book. The allusion is to literary plagiarism, but the expression is now employed in a positive sense only.
It is a great pity that some of our instructors in more important matters … will not take a leaf out of the same book. (Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown at Oxford. 1861)
tarred with the same brush All having the same shortcomings; each as guilty as the next. This expression derives from the practice of marking all sheep of the same flock with a common mark made by a brush dipped in tar. Some say the mark was for identification only; others claim it was to protect the sheep against ticks, or to treat sores. A variant of this expression is painted with the same brush. These expressions usually imply that what distinguishes a given group of individuals is their shared guilt or their similar negative characteristics.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee So similar as to be indistinguishable or undifferentiated. Though the names were popularized by the well-known pair in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871), the terms were coined in 1725 by John Byrom, who used them in a satirical poem about quarreling musicians. In doing so, he was obviously playing on the meaning of tweedle ‘to produce shrill musical sounds.’
Strange all this Difference should be,