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- As incapable of inflicting harm as a butterfly —Anon
- Harmless and pleasant as the murmur of book and wind —Robert Buchanan
- Harmless as a Fuller Brush salesman —Raymond Chandler
Invariably topical or “brand name” similes either become obsolete or change when the name is no longer a household word. However, there’s always a new name or catchword to take its place.
- Harmless as a moth in a closet of Dacron —Anon
- Harmless as an infant at play —William Cowper
Besides other variants meaning literally harmless (“Harmless as a baby,” ‘Harmless as a sleeping infant’), there are also the more dramatic ones implying danger (‘Harmless as an infant playing with knives/a box of pins/matches’).
- Harmless as a paper tiger —Chinese proverb
- Harmless as doves —The Holy Bible
Attribution for the simile is often given to Christina Rosetti’s Sonnet of Sonnets, which contains this line: “She spread about her beauty for a snare, harmless as doves.”
- Harmless as leaves —Reynolds Price
- Harmless as pigeons —Robinson Jeffers
- Harmless as witches that have been robbed of their terror —Ellen Glasgow