Hyperbole  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hyperbole comes from Greek 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, and is not 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.

Some examples include:
these books weigh a ton. (weigh a great deal)
I could sleep for a year. (for a long time)

Antonyms to hyperbole include meiosis, litotes, understatement, and bathos (the 'let down' after a hyperbole in a phrase).

Contents

Etymology

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).

Examples

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"
  • "There are no lessons in winning. In losing, there are a thousand."
-Master Fung, "Xiaolin Showdown"
  • 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." [1]


See also

See Also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hyperbole" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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