From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hyperbole (pronounced /haɪˈpɜrbəliː/ hye-PER-bə-lee) comes from ancient Greek “ὑπερβολή” (meaning excess or exaggeration) and is a figure of speech in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is rarely meant to be taken literally.
Hyperbole is used to create emphasis. It is a literary device often used in poetry, and is frequently encountered in casual speech. It is also a visual technique in which a deliberate exaggeration of a particular part of an image is employed. An example is the exaggeration of a person’s facial feature in a political cartoon.
Derived from the Greek ὑπερβολή (literally ‘overshooting’ or ‘excess’), it is a cognate of hyperbola. Antonyms to hyperbole include meiosis, litotes, understatement, and bathos (the ‘let down’ after a hyperbole in a phrase).
Some examples of use of hyperbole include:
- This cat smells like a year’s worth of spoiled milk! ( The cat smells bad )
- These books weigh a ton. (These books are heavy.)
- I could sleep for a year. (I could sleep for a long time.)
- The path went on forever. (The path was really long.)
- He beat him into a pulp. (He beat him up very harshly.)
- He must have jumped a mile. (He jumped very high into the air.)
- I’m doing a million things right now. (I’m busy.)
- Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system. (Boston State-House is an important place.)
- –Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., “The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,” Ch. 6
- “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together.” This uses hyperbole to illustrate the use of hyperbole.
- -Kent Brockman, “The Simpsons”
- I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse. (I’m very hungry)
- He was so big he used a tree trunk for a toothpick. (He is a huge person.)
- This coffee tastes like an old man has been heated to render out the earwax. (This coffee tastes horrible.)
- I’ve told you a million times, stop exaggerating. (I’ve told you many times not to exaggerate.)
A common source of unwitting humour is when hyperbole is preceded by the word “literally”:
- “I literally had to work with both hands tied behind my back. If I wanted time off I literally had to fight for it.” 
- ^ “HYE-pər-bowl” is a common mispronunciation
 See also
- Godwin’s Law
 External links