17 Fast & Speed Metaphors, Idioms and Similes

Some of my favorite speed metaphors (aka metaphors for fast) include:

  • He’s a Cheetah
  • He’s a Rocketship
  • He’s a Race Car

Some good speed idioms include:

  • In the blink of an eye
  • Before the ink is dry

Below is the full list.

Fast & Speed Metaphors

Metaphors for Fast or Speedy

1. He’s a Speeding Bullet

A bullet is one of the fastest things you can think of. It’s so fast you can’t really dodge it, and you can’t even see it flying through the sky. In fact, bullets move at about 2,600 feet per second. Just imagine looking 2,600 feet (that’s 792 meters) into the distance. That’s how far a bullet would travel in just one second!

In fact, bullets are so fast that speed trains are often colloquially called ‘bullet trains’.

So to say that someone is a speeding bullet is to say that it’s incredibly fast. You might say, for example, that someone who runs really fast is a “speeding bullet”.

Read More: A List of Weapon Metaphors

2. He’s a Cheetah

A cheetah is known as the fastest land animal on earth. They have been tracked running about 100km/h (That’s about 60 miles per hour). Just imagine driving down a highway and looking out your window and seeing a cheetah matching your speed!

So, you’ll often find people calling someone a cheetah. Of course, they’re not actually cheetahs, but they’re so fast that they remind you of a cheetah.

3. He’s a Rocket Ship

If you thought a cheetah was fast, you wouldn’t believe how fast a rocket ship is. According to UC Santa Barbara, a rocket ship will travel up to 25,000 miles per hour in order to escape the pull of gravity and get into space beyond. Even at this speed, it takes about 3 days to get from earth to the moon.

At this sort of speed, you can imagine why people metaphorically call anything that’s fast a ‘rocket ship’, referring to the similarity between a rocket ship and that thing you’re saying is quick.

Of course, this will be hyperbole, but it still has the intended effect in speech.

4. He’s a Magician

Magicians aren’t necessarily fast, so why would you metaphorically call a quick person ‘a magician’?

It’s likely because magicians can do things that seem unbelievable and defy physics.

So if you see someone who’s doing a task so quick that it seems unbelievable, you might say “wow, you’re a magician.” Take, for example, if you set someone a task you thought would take them an hour and they come back to you in 5 minutes with it totally complete!

5. He’s Superhuman

If someone does something so fast that it’s unbelievable, you might also say that they’re superhuman. This would mean that they have skills (speed skills!) that are so fast that they seem like they’re not even humans (or better than humans).

Another way to say this is to say “you’re superman” or “you’re the flash”, who are two superheros who each have super speed superpowers.

6. He’s Defying Gravity

Gravity is one of the main things that prevents us from going really fast. In fact, some trains use magnetic levitation to achieve superfast speeds. By being released from the pull of gravity and friction against the tracks, they can move forward at speeds that a normal train can’t fathom.

So we can use this phrase to say someone is going superfast. It doesn’t mean they’re actually defying gravity, but it seems like it so you create the analogy for literary effect!

7. You’re Electric!

Someone who’s ‘electric’ or ‘electrifying’ is a person who seems to have a lot of energy. If a person is doing a task energetically – say, digging a hole at great sped, you could say to them “you’re electric”. It doesn’t mean they’ve literally got electricity running through them, but it simply refers to this sense that there’s something extra special about them.

Similes for Speed

8. As Fast as a Flash

Think about how fast a camera flash is. It’s so quick that you usually don’t even have time to blink. In fact, you would hope a camera will take a photo before you have the reaction time to blink.

There’s also a superhero called The Flash whose superpower is that he can move incredibly fast.

So, to say that someone or something is fast as a flash is to say that they move really fast.

9. As Fast as a Race Car

A race car is, of course, one of the fastest cars you can come across. They’re literally designed and optimized for speed. So if you were to say that someone is a race car (metaphor) or is like a race car (simile) you’re saying that they appear to be designed to go super fast.

10. As Fast as a Snail

This is an ironic simile because it’s actually saying someone is really slow! To say that someone is ‘as fast as something slow’, it’s really saying that they’re slow! You might use this term snarkily to roll your eyes at someone who thinks they’re quick. You might say: “Oh yeah, you’re really fast. As fast as a snail!”

Read More: Metaphors for Slowness

11. As Fast as Lightning

Lightning actually travels at 270,000 mph! But chances are you’re not really saying that someone’s going that quickly. Really, it’s saying that someone has appeared and disappeared as quickly as a bolt of lightning on the horizon, which is just a quick flash.

Idioms for Speed

12. One Fell Swoop

When something happens in ‘one fell swoop’, it all happens at once. You might use this term to return to the fall of a building, for example, where the whole building collapses at once. It didn’t fall apart one level at a time. Rather, it all came crashing down at once. So, a fell swoop is usually a dramatic and quick event.

13. Before the Ink is Dry

Back when people wrote with quills, they would often have to wait before touching the parchment because they needed to give time for the ink to dry off. Today, we still use this idiom to say something happened really quickly, especially after a contract was signed.

For example, perhaps a couple gets divorced very quickly after they got married. They would say: “wow, they got a divorce before the ink was even dry on the marriage certificate.”

14. In the Blink of an Eye

Blinking happens so fast we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. We feel as if we’ve got our eyes open constantly.

So to say that something happens ‘within the blink of an eye’, it has started and ended before your eyes have had a chance to close and then re-open. It would have happened so quickly that you didn’t even see it.

Read More: A List of Eye Metaphors

15. At the Drop of a Hat

In the 19th Century, a race or boxing match would often begin when the referee drops his hat. Immediately, the match is on! Today, we still say ‘at the drop of a hat’ to refer to when something happens without delay. Just like people would have started running without delay after the hat drops, anything you do quickly can be said to have been done at the drop of a hat.

16. You’re Flying!

Above, you’ll have noticed that flying things are often invoked in speed metaphors. Superman, things ‘defying gravity’ and of course rocket ships!

This is because, when you look up at the sky, you see some things moving at speeds that are unfathomable to us down on earth. Even shooting stars are moving at incredible speeds.

So, to say that someone is “flying” isn’t to say they’re literally flying, but rather that they’re moving so fast it’s as if they’re going as fast as something that’s flying.

17. The Speed of Light!

Light is the fastest thing possible. So, to move ‘at the speed of light’ means to move really really fast! We obviously don’t mean that someone had ‘run at the speed of light’, so this idioms is an example of a hyperbolic idiom – that is, an idiom that exaggerates in order to achieve literary effect.

Conclusion – Figurative Language for Speed, Quick and Fast

The above similes, idioms and metaphors for fast, speed and quick are not the only ones you can come up with. There are clearly many more out there, but these are the best ones I could come up with for this article. If none of the above ones fit, you can always make your own simile or metaphor by thinking of something that you consider to be analogous to speed, and use is or like to create the analogy.

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