Since simile in this paper is understood as a figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared and not only as a construction corresponding to the formula X is like Y, the borderline between the semasiological (from form to content) and onomasiological (from content to form) approaches in respect to the analysis of simile is considered to be crucial. The article is devoted to the analysis of the existing formulas for simile that enumerate the elements in the surface structures of most similes and to the elaboration of a formula that would reflect the essence of the relationship of simile elements regardless of their formal expression. Taking into account existing linguistic studies of similes as well as the author’s own understanding of the problem, simile components are described which also have a symbolic reflection in the aforementioned universal formula for similes. Employing the method of conceptual analysis as well as the methods of description and interpretation, modelling and coding, the author devises a new formula for simile, representing all four of its constituents (a tenor, a vehicle, a comparison marker and a commonly shared salient feature). The devised formula is further subjected to analysis for the possibility of being applied to all formal types of simile. The presented formula of a universal character is essential to identify and analyse different types of similes without limiting research to the formations of a certain model. The formula is labelled universal because it characterizes similes regardless of their forms and languages in which they are used.