My favorite strength metaphors are:
- He’s a bull.
- He’s a rock.
- He’s a mountain.
Some good strength similes are:
- Built like a brick.
- Tough as an ox.
- Tough as nails.
Below are all 15 of the metaphors, similes and metaphors for strength below, with examples.
A List of Strength Metaphors
1. He’s a Bull
Bulls symbolize strength. This symbolic meaning of bulls is used to make this metaphor effective.
We will call a strong, masculine, alpha-male a bull to refer to the fact they’re a bit like bulls. They’re tough guys who you wouldn’t want to mess with. They can be dangerous because of their size and you can see their muscles bulging. Alongside all the cows, you’ll be able to spot them out from the crowd because they’re the one animal in the pack looking stronger than the rest.
2. He’s a Rock
The famous Actor Dwayne Johnson has the nickname The Rock based on this metaphor.
Rocks are tough to break because of their density. So, we consider them to be one of the strongest things you can find lying around everywhere.
Therefore, when you call someone a rock, you’re referring to the fact that they’re also incredibly strong. You’d usually call someone a rock if you can see their muscles physically bulging out of their arms and legs, just like Dwayne Johnson.
See Also: Rock Metaphors and Similes
3. He’s a Mountain
The Mountain from Game of Thrones got his nickname for his strength. This character was enormous. He even dwarfed his very strong brother (The Dog) because he was so big.
We call big strong people mountains because they take up so much space. You can imagine a person you call the mountain being so big that they stand over you and cast a shadow over your whole body.
See Also: Mountain Metaphors
4. He’s got the Heart of a Racehorse
Racehorses are known to have large, strong hearts. Their hearts need to be able to pump blood around their bodies very quickly in order to sustain their speed as they run around the track.
If you come across someone with great resilience (or the ability to operate at a high level of intensity for a long time), you could say that they have the heart of a racehorse.
Less commonly, you may hear this idioms as a metaphor for love because having a big heart means you are a loving person. But, this is an uncommon alternative interpretation.
See Also: Horse Symbolism
5. He’s a Tornado
Tornadoes don’t stop for anyone. They will push through entire towns, tearing up everything in their path.
So to call someone a tornado is to metaphorically refer to their strength and the fact they’re seemingly unstoppable.
You would usually use this metaphor for someone who’s not only strong but also unruly. They might be in a rage, for example, and someone looking on might say: “Don’t intervene. He’s a tornado: he’s too strong and not going to stop for anyone!”
6. He’s a Goliath
The biblical story of David vs. Goliath depicts two characters. David is the weak character and Goliath is the big strong giant.
In this story, Goliath is the bad guy and David ends up defeating him.
So if you were to call someone a Goliath, you would refer to a few key features they have:
- They’re strong.
- They’re the bad guy.
- You hoe they lose!
A time you might use this metaphor is when your favorite football team is up against the most powerful football team and you want your weaker team to win. Then, the bigger team would be “the Goliath we want to slay.”
See Also: Chain Symbolism
7. He’s Superhuman
Many superheroes are depicted as having strength that is beyond the strength of humans. One of those is the Incredible Hulk.
So when we call someone who’s showing extreme strength ‘superhuman’, you’re saying that they are a superhero – they’re not human, they’re something else. Of course this isn’t true and we’re not saying it literally. We’re using figurative language (a metaphor) to emphasize the person’s strength.
8. Arms of Steel
If you ever saw someone with enormous trunks for arms (see the next metaphor), you might touch their arm muscles and say “wow, you have got arms of steel”.
This is because their arms are strong like steel. It could also refer to the idea that their arms are so dense and tough that when you touch them they don’t feel like soft arm muscles, but rather they feel like hard steel.
9. Trunks for Arms
I just used a metaphor above just by accident. So, I’d better include it here! I said someone who’s really muscular has ‘trunks for arms’. Of course, they don’t have tree trunks as arms. Rather, I referred to the fact that really fat arms are as thick as tree trunks (in simile form). This highlights the width of their enormous muscles.
A List of Strength Similes
10. Built like a Brick
A brick is tough. It’s so tough that we build houses out of brick to keep us protected from the storms and elements outdoors.
When we say a person who is built like a brick, we’re similarly saying they are someone who has a very solid build. Chances are they have very big muscles and a tall frame.
In Australia, they also have the colloquial saying “built like a brick s**t house”, referring to the idea of a brick outhouse being big and strong to withstand storms.
11. He’s Tough as an Ox
Oxen are renowned for being tough animals. When we used to use them to till the soil on farms they would work long days pulling heavy weights, and they wouldn’t stop or break down.
The strength of oxen has led to the common simile these days: “built like an ox”.
You might use this simile to refer to a man who works long 10 hour days doing hard labor such as building houses or working out on a farm.
12. He’s Tough as Nails
A person who is ‘tough as nails’ is someone who can handle anything.
It refers to the strength of nails (which can hold together walls and wooden structures despite their tiny size).
We can use this simile (which is also an idiom) in both positive and negative ways.
A negative use of the simile is when we talk about someone who is stubborn. We want them to do something but they refuse because they’re ‘tough as nails’.
But, when we use is positively, we’re referring to the fact someone is able to put themselves through anything and they won’t break down. This could refer to either physical or mental strength.
A List of Strength Idioms
13. Use your Elbow Grease
‘Elbow grease’ means hard physical labor. It’s as old as the 17th Century and refers to sweat. While a machine might operate on grease, obviously elbows don’t have grease on them. But we do have sweat!
When we tell someone to use their elbow grease, we’re really telling them to work so hard that they start sweating from all the effort.
14. True Strength is Internal
This proverb refers to the idea that muscles don’t make someone strong. They may have big muscles, but they might be mentally weak and give up easily.
So, it highlights that the people who we should respect and admire are those people who are mentally strong. They can withstand a lot of emotional turmoil or stand by their morals even when they are faced with a lot of pressure.
An example of a person who embodies this saying is Nelson Mandela who survived in prison for many years for advocating against racism.
15. You’re only as Strong as your Weakest Link
This idiom refers to the idea that one weakness can bring you down no matter how strong you are in other ways.
This is often used to refer to teams. Every member of the team must be strong. If one member of the team fails, then the whole team won’t be able to achieve their goals. For example, if the person who is in charge of bringing the footballs to the football game forgets them, the whole game falls to pieces!
The above strength metaphors, similes and idioms are not the only ones. I’m sure there are many more that you can think of. But, these are a good introduction to some ways you can use figurative language to talk about strength.
If you’re not satisfied with any of the similes, idioms or metaphors listed above, you could make up your own simile. Just think of something that strength is like and compare them!
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.