Hope metaphors can often invoke a sense that there’s a path to good even in the bad times, such as these ones:
- There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
- Every cloud has a silver lining.
- The sun is peeking through the clouds.
Other metaphors for hope highlight its permanence, like:
- Hope is a bottomless well.
- Hope is an eternal flame.
- Hope won’t walk out on you.
Below is analysis of all 15 hope metaphors.
1. Hope is a thing with feathers
This famous metaphor comes from the first line of an Emily Dickinson poem. The poem goes:
Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without words
And never stops at all
Here, the characteristics of the bird are applied to the concept of hope. It’s something that can soar if it is allowed, and sings a never-ending positive tune even through the sad times.
2. A cloud with a silver lining
The idea that every cloud has a silver lining refers to the idea that you can see something positive in all situations. Even on a rainy, cloudy day, you might be able to see something beautiful in it, like some sparkling silver.
You can use this as a metaphor for hope, because people seeking hope need to look for the positive in times that are tough.
3. A light at the end of the tunnel
People seeking hope are said to be ‘looking for the light’. Imagine being lost and stuck in a cave or tunnel and trying to find your way out. You’ll want to see some glimmers of light to lead you to your escape.
The light at the end of the tunnel metaphor can be used when either you’re looking for it (‘find the light at the end of the tunnel and there will be better days ahead’) or when you can see it and are walking towards it (‘Time is tough right now, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel’).
4. A child’s happiness
Many politicians will use the symbolism of childhood to highlight the better days ahead. We might say “I just look at how smart children are these days and know we’ll be in good hands”.
We can also look to the innocence and joy of childhood and use that as a personal motivation to carry on through tough times. The burning desire to ensure children have a good life can give us hope through times when we can’t find any other reason to carry on.
5. The sunshine and flowers in spring
Spring is symbolic of brighter days to come. The winter has ended and life is flourishing. Six months of sunshine and warmth are coming. It’s usually a time that’s more upbeat because you can see good times on your horizon.
So, when writing or speaking about hope, you can say that hope is “like” (that makes it a simile) the first days of spring. Your heart is full of anticipation!
6. The sun peeking through clouds
After a terrible storm, the first sign of better days ahead is the emergence of sunshine (see also: sun metaphors). You might look up at the sun breaking through the clouds as a sign of hope for better days to come. So we can use the emergence of sunshine through the clouds metaphorically to refer to the concept of hope.
7. Hope springs eternal
There aren’t many emotions that seem to be impossible to get rid of. Two of the most powerful and long-lasting emotions are love and hope. For both of these emotions, we can use the metaphor of the eternal spring that never dries up.
We can also use the phrase “a bottomless well” here. It will continue to give you water to sustain you forever. So when analogizing this to emotions like love and hope, we’re saying that you will sustain this emotion no matter what.
8. An eternal flame
The eternal flame metaphor is similar to the bottomless well metaphor. It implies that you will sustain your hope forever, no matter what. This metaphor is more commonly used for love than hope, though, because love is often associated with flames and fire to indicate passion. Nevertheless, the metaphor can still be used for hope – e.g. “my hope is an eternal flame; it will never be put out”.
9. A rainbow
The idea that hope is a rainbow links to the fact that rainbows emerge after storms. They’re a sign of better days ahead. This is particularly relevant in biblical metaphors, because God sent a rainbow as a sign to Noah that the floods are over and there are better days to come.
You could say: “hope is a rainbow; it comes out just when you need it”.
10. A force of nature
The idea that hope is a force of nature implies that it’s something that can’t be easily stopped. Imagine a storm, tsunami or tornado. These are forces of nature that are unstoppable. You just have to get out of their way!
Similarly, you can say “my hope is a force of nature; it won’t be stopped by anyone”. This can be a good metaphor for people who want to talk about someone whose hope seems to be impossible to break.
11. Hope creeps up on you
This is a special type of metaphor called ‘personification’. It means that we are giving hope the characteristics of a human or animal. Of course, hope cannot creep because it doesn’t have arms and legs. But it gives this sense that your hope is slowly becoming stronger and stronger inside of you, just like an animal might slowly sneak up on you without you knowing.
12. Hope pulls you out of bed
This example of personification involves the idea that hope ‘pulls’. It’s almost as if it is a friends standing above you compelling you to get out of bed. They’re giving you a lending hand to get you through tough days. Similarly, hope can be that one thing that keeps you taking steps forward, getting out of bed, and facing the day.
13. Hope won’t walk out on you
This third example of personification gives us this sense that hope can walk – which it clearly can’t! But the idea behind this metaphor is that hope is something that will “stand by your side” no matter what happens. It’s not like a bad boyfriend who gives up when the going gets tough. Once again, we can see in this metaphor the idea that hope is one of the strongest of emotions that humans experience.
14. Hope is a Seedling in the Garden
The idea of hope as a seedling gives us the idea that hope can start small but grow into something enormous.
But it also signifies this concept that we have hope for the little guy. A small seedling is vulnerable and easy to squash, but we have hope that it will grow into a grand and powerful tree.
Lastly, this metaphor also harks back to the idea that hope and spring time are intertwined – as new plants usually grow in the garden in spring.
15. Hope Visited me in my Dreams
If we’re living a life that seems hopeless, sometimes we can retreat to our dreams to get a sense of hope. To say that hope ‘visited’ you in your dreams is to imply that you had a dream that gave you hope. This is another example of a personification metaphor because hope can’t ‘visit’ anyone like a human can, but we’re giving it a human trait.
This list of hope metaphors has provided some insights into what hope means to people. It’s something that we turn to when times are tough, but also something we feel welling up inside of us at the beginning of something wonderful, like at the start of spring.
These metaphors for hope can be used in writing or even speeches when trying to find ways to describe hope. But they’re surely not the only ones. Hopefully this list of hope metaphors has given you the creative juices to come up with some metaphors of your own!
I’m a Scorpio, I love the outdoors, and I’ve written articles in some major online publications like Medium and The Weekly. My favorite metaphor? Anything that’s got to do with baseball. I’m fascinated by the fact our language has baseball weaved all through it. Read more about me here.