Originally answered on Quora.
Why do analogies help?
Just as much as me using a divine person’s name (to some) to express an emotion or feeling vs. just logically saying “I think that is the most stupid question I have ever heard” OR “How can you not know why analogies ‘help’?” OR “Wow, I can’t believe you don’t know, analogies have an amazing power.”
Like other rhetorical devices, the “alternative words” called “analogies” are used to help elucidate ideas, emotions or otherwise to people who can’t “get it” initially with a first explanation OR they need extra examples that help better clarify the concept or whatever point the source is trying to generate.
At birth, you have very little that you can understand because you have very few references. However, as you grow in age, you start to develop more and more points of references and so these “analogies” leverage those concepts you already have in your mind. And then when someone explains a new idea that is foreign to you, these analogies help you understand by leveraging the “other simpler concept” to help you build upon your understanding.
Analogies are so powerful that the top boarding school programs in the world use a test that focuses 1/2 of its 60 (verbal) questions on analogies. You can probably learn even more why they are so powerful by visiting the site or reading up on all the different analogies.
I guess I take back the first 2 thoughts I had initially when I read your question and maybe even the 3rd (from above). Depending on how young you are, perhaps these “silly” rhetorical devices might be still foreign in your mind.