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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hyperbole (pronounced /haɪˈpɜrbəli/[1], from ancient Greek ὑπερβολή 'exaggeration') is a rhetorical device in which statements are exaggerated. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but 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. It is also a visual technique in which a deliberate exaggeration of a particular part of an image is employed, such as the exaggeration of a person's facial feature in a political cartoon.

In rhetoric, some opposites of hyperbole are meiosis, litotes, understatement, and bathos (the 'let down' after a hyperbole in a phrase).



Borrowed from the Greek ὑπερβολή, literally 'overshooting' or 'excess', but used in the sense of 'exaggeration' by Isocrates and Aristotle. The word hyperbola comes from the same Greek word, but was borrowed via Latin.[2]


Some examples of use of hyperbole include:

  • 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 very long.)
  • I'm doing a million things right now. (I'm busy.)
  • I could eat a horse. (I'm hungry.)
  • I waited centuries for you. (I waited a long time for you.)
  • It took forever to get here. (It took a long time to get here.)
  • She ran at the "speed of light". (she ran fast.)
  • The homework was a "mission to complete". (the homework was hard.)


External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

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