What Is a Hyperbole?

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A hyperbole is an expression in which a writer or speaker deliberately exaggerates to an extreme. It’s a literary and rhetorical technique that helps writers make a point by exaggerating a statement. According to dictionary.com, hyperboles are extravagant statements or claims that are not meant to be taken literally.

Since hyperbole is a metaphorical language, it is not supposed to be taken in a real sense. This rhetorical figure is used to make something more dramatic. Let’s understand it with the example below:

I am so hungry that I could eat a horse.

In the above example, the speaker states that he could eat a horse. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the speaker can literally eat a horse. The speaker is using hyperbole to emphasize that he is feeling very hungry.

Examples of Hyperbole in Everyday Conversation

As mentioned above, hyperbole is an intense exaggeration to influence the emphasis on writing. Sometimes people confuse it with metaphor or simile. While hyperbole makes the comparison like metaphor and simile, it is used to create a humorous and surprising effect by the over-statement. Check out the common examples of hyperbole in everyday conversation.

  • His grandparents are as old as the hills.
  • I nearly died laughing.
  • I tried a thousand times.
  • I was hopping mad.
  • She ran faster than the wind.
  • Your sister is as tall as a house.
  • He is going to die of embarrassment.
  • This is the worst day of my life.
  • He is as fat as an elephant.
  • The shopping cost me a million dollars.
  • He is trying to solve a million issues these days.
  • It’s so cold outside that I can see the polar bears wearing jackets and hats.
  • Your suitcase weighs a ton.
  • My dad has told me to clean my room a million times.
  • My dad will kill me, seeing this disorganized room.
  • Her skin is softer than silk.
  • His brother is as skinny as a pen.
  • I have watched this movie a thousand times.
  • Next Monday is never going to arrive.
  • My father is stronger than iron.
  • Spring break will never come.
  • She has the brain of a pea-size.
  • The leaves are dancing in the breeze.
  • My legs hurt so much it’s going to drop off.
  • She is my guardian angel.
  • I have millions of things to do tomorrow.

The Importance of Hyperbole

As we can see in the above examples, hyperbole has a significant role in everyday speech. We often use it to emphasize a specific characteristic of something. It is capable of communicating different kinds of feelings. 

Writers generally use hyperbole to amuse or surprise readers with their creativity. For example, it is more fun to say, “he has a pea-size brain” than “he is stupid.

However, hyperbole shouldn’t be overused else it can lose its effect. If your writing has too many hyperbole sentences, readers will not take you seriously. They would feel anesthetized to all of the overstatements. When you use hyperbole correctly, its effect is emphatic, and readers pay attention to your point.

How to Use Hyperbole Correctly

You should be aware of the correct application of hyperbole before using it. Remember, you shouldn’t use it in formal writing, such as academic writing, scientific reports, business letters, and articles for publication.

Since hyperbole is a whimsical over-statement, you should avoid using it at any legal and official writings. Let’s see some popular examples of hyperbole in literature.

Hyperbole in Literature

Hyperbole has been used in literature for ages. Writers use it to express a powerful sentiment or emotion. In literature, it is a popular figure of speech to confess love. The poem As I Walked Out One Evening, written by W.H Auden, epitomizes how hyperbole can be used efficiently to express love. See the following couplet from the poem.

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

Let’s have a look at some other popular examples of hyperbole in literature.

Paul Bunyan

The popular American folklore, Paul Bunyan is a perfect example of hyperbole. One popular example of hyperbole from Paul Bunyan is:

“One winter, it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south, and even the snow turned blue.”

In the above example, hyperbole is used to show the comedic effect. The above statement expresses that the winter was cold but in the comic sense. All the things mentioned in the above example, such as flying of geese toward backward, moving of fish south, and turning of snow blue, didn’t happen in reality. It was written to create humor and express how cold that particular winter was.  

Heart of Darkness 

Written by Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad, this short story also uses hyperbole to overstress time. Look at the following example.

I had to wait in the station for ten days – an eternity.” 

The above statement expresses that the character had to wait in the station for ten-days that felt like an incredibly long time. However,  it does not mean that ten days is an eternity.

Hyperbole in Advertising

Hyperbole also has a big role in the field of advertising. Marketing firms use this technique to deliver an entertaining message about their brands. Sometimes it is used to make vague claims about a particular product that can’t be proved or disproved. Additionally, it is also used to puff up a product.

Examples

  • The happiest place on earth – Disneyland.
  • It’s everywhere you want to be – Visa
  • It gives you wings! – Red Bull
  • Cover the earth – Sherwin Williams
  • Reach out and touch someone – AT & T

Note: You must use hyperbole in the limit. Otherwise, customers may ask for credibility after seeing the use of over-statement in the advertisements. 

So these are some different usages of hyperbole. We hope this post gives you adequate knowledge of hyperbole and its usage.


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