When you draw an analogy between two things, you compare them for the purpose of explanation. The movie character Forrest Gump made a silly analogy famous: "Life is like a box of chocolates."

Some standardized tests still have "analogy questions," which are given in this format: A : B :: C : ___ (read "A is to B as C is to what?"). This is a more formalized version of something we do every day: compare one thing to another. It's a useful way of speaking — if a scientist explains that the earth's forests function as its lungs, we understand the analogy to mean that both trees and lungs take in important elements from the air. But when Forrest Gump says life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you're going to get, that's a pretty brainless analogy.

Definitions of analogy
  1. noun
    drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect
    “the operation of a computer presents an interesting analogy to the working of the brain”
    “the models show by analogy how matter is built up”
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    type of:
    comparing, comparison
    the act of examining resemblances
  2. noun
    an inference that if things agree in some respects they probably agree in others
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    type of:
    illation, inference
    the reasoning involved in drawing a conclusion or making a logical judgment on the basis of circumstantial evidence and prior conclusions rather than on the basis of direct observation
  3. noun
    the religious belief that between creature and creator no similarity can be found so great but that the dissimilarity is always greater; any analogy between God and humans will always be inadequate
    synonyms: doctrine of analogy
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    the religious belief that God cannot be known but is completely `other' and must be described in negative terms (in terms of what God is not)
    the religious belief that God has given enough clues to be known to humans positively and affirmatively (e.g., God created Adam `in his own image')
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    type of:
    faith, religion, religious belief
    a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny
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