The moon is an ever present feature of the night’s sky, and the most attractive and grand feature at that. So the use of the moon as a metaphorical device in writing can create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind of the context of a scene.
Some of the best moon metaphors to describe the moon include:
- A pearl in the black sea
- An eye watching over us
- Nature’s clock
Metaphors describing the rising of the moon include:
- The moon started its shift
- The moon woke early
Some proverbs and idioms about the moon include:
- I’m over the moon
- I’m shooting for the moon
These metaphors and more are described below.
Metaphors that Describe the Moon
1. A big white dinner plate
One of the first things you might be able to relate the moon to is a dinner plate. On a night with a full moon, it looks like a shining plate that you could pluck out of the sky, give a wash, plate up, and eat the food right off it.
2. The world’s billboard
It may be cost prohibitive right now, but could you imagine the moon having a Pepsi or Coke logo slapped across it? While it can’t literally occur, we could turn this into a metaphor. We might say that the moon is a billboard for our common humanity – which may mean that all of us look up and see the same moon, which is a testament to the fact we share the one planet.
3. A pearl in the black sea
There is an array of potential moon metaphors that involve the fact that the moon is a single large object in the sky. Sure, there are stars in the sky, but nothing that compares to the size and grandeur of the moon. So, we can think of ways of talking about how solitary it is – such as saying it’s “a lone pearl in the black sea”. It looks a bit like a pearl, and the blackness behind might be metaphorically constructed as an ocean.
4. A lonely figure searching for friends
Another way of referring to the fact that the moon is a solitary figure in the sky is to personify it – where personification is a type of metaphor that gives an object human qualities. Here is an example: The moon is feeling lonely. Or, you can spruce that up some more, with the saying: the moon is a lonely figure searching for friends in the sky.
5. A boat floating in the ocean
The third metaphor about the moon’s loneliness among a backdrop of blackness is the idea that it is ‘floating’. There seems to be no effect of gravity making it fall to the ground (although gravity does hold it close to earth). So we can say it floats – which relates the moon’s ability to seemingly hang in the sky to the ability of boats to float in the ocean.
To continue this further, we might even say it’s a boat floating in a black metaphorical ocean. And if the stars behind are particularly bright, we could say it’s a boat floating in an luminescent ocean, perhaps.
6. A coin flipped in the sky
The roundness of the moon can again be employed in this situation where we talk about the moon as a coin – which of course is also circular. But here, there is more that can be done. Can we talk about it flipping like a coin. You could picture someone flipped a coin and it got stick in mid-air, becoming the moon as we know it today.
7. A crystal ball
What I like about the metaphor of the moon as a crystal ball is that it is magical any mystical. Maybe it’s God’s crystal ball, or even our own – if we look long and hard at the moon, might it reveal something about ourselves or even our futures?
8. An eye watching over us all
The idea of the moon as an eye reminds us of the sense that it’s looking over us. Just about anyone in the world can look up at night and see the moon. So it feels like it’s an omnipresent object, looking down upon us all like Big Brother in 1984. This metaphor also personifies the moon, giving it human (or even god-like) qualities.
9. The moon winks
To continue the idea of the moon being an eye, you might even say that it winks at you. Consider in a story a character who has just done something that no one saw. You might say they walked away successful in their mission, and the moon gave a knowing wink. Here, the implication is that the moon is the only thing that knows what happened.
10. A nightlamp hanging in the courtyard
Imagine sitting in a courtyard during the full moon and it lighting up the courtyard so much that it casts shadows. You might in this situation call the moon a nightlamp, guiding the way and providing you enough light to sneak through the night without stubbing a toe!
11. Nature’s clock
Because the moon completes a full cycle each day, a knowledgeable person might even be able to look at the moon and tell the time. Plus, given its shape, you could even imagine it to be a big round clock in the skies helping everyone keep touch with the time.
12. God’s Trophy
An interesting metaphor, this idea that the moon is God’s trophy makes us think that it’s something God is so proud of, he’s put it up in the skies for all of us to see. It’s analogous to placing a trophy on a mantlepiece in your living room so all of your guests will get a good look at it from all angles in the room.
Metaphors to Describe the Rising and Setting of the Moon
13. The moon woke early in the night
This idea that the moon wakes up each night makes reference to the idea that our sleep patterns are direct opposites to the night. You could say “the sun went to bed as the moon woke” or “the moon woke as I drifted off to sleep.”
14. The moon starts its shift
Here, we’re referring to the ebb and flow of the moon and sun switching shifts. The moon’s shift begins as it breaks the horizon and ends when the sun wakes the following morning. This idea that the moon has a shift and the sun has a shift continues the motif of the sun and moon keeping watch over us, also.
Moon Idioms and Proverbs
Idioms and proverbs often contain metaphors, but are rhetorical ways of speaking that have become common in our everyday language. These proverbs may not be describing the moon, but employ the moon as a rhetorical device to paint a picture in the mind.
15. Shoot for the Stars and Reach the Moon
The stars are farther from us than the moon. So if we say we’re shooting for the stars but only reaching the moon, we’re saying that we’re going to try to get as far as we can. If we don’t make it the whole way, that’s okay. Because in the effort we made, we achieved something great still: the moon! This phrase is often used to refer to the idea that making a big effort can lead to positive outcomes, even if they’re not the ones we had expected.
16. Over the moon
To be over the moon is to be really excited. This phrase is an extension of the concept of “jumping with joy”. But you were so joyful that you jumped all the way over the moon!
17. One Giant Leap for Mankind
This saying was used by Neil Armstrong when he made his first step on the moon. He said: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The saying refers to the concept that the moon landing was a sign of giant progress in the capabilities of humans. While not directly invoking the moon, this famous metaphor relates directly to a significant event involving the moon.
18. Living on the Dark Side of the Moon
No one can see the dark side of the moon from earth, so to say someone is living on the dark side of the moon is to say that they are hiding, introverted, or detached from the goings-on of life on earth. A similar phrase is “living under a rock”.
19. Howling at the Moon
To howl at the moon is to make a lot of noise but have no one around to hear you. You could say “I may as well howl at the moon than talk to you.” It is similar to the phrase “I may as well be talking to a wall.” It refers to wolves who howl into the night, but also the idea that there’s no one around to listen but the moon, who as we know is always watching over us during the night time.
This list of moon metaphors is by no means extensive but gives a good starting-point for considering how to write engagingly about the night in stories. The moon is an ever present feature in the outdoors at night, and it’s majesty up in the sky makes it an excellent symbol to use in story lines. Stories about vampires, werewolves, or even people who use the cover of night to go about their business can benefit from use of moon metaphors or even the moon as a motif throughout a story.
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.