English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is hyperbole? (with examples)

What is hyperbole? (with examples)

Hyperbole is deliberate exaggeration for emphasis or comedy.

Easy Examples of Hyperbole

  • You have lost a ton of weight.
  • I’ve got a million things to do.
  • Your mum is going to have a fit when she sees that tattoo.
  • I could eat a scabby horse.

Real-Life Examples of Hyperbole

Con la hipérbole, el significado literal no es el significado pretendido.

  • My mother worked her fingers to the bone trying to provide for me and my brother. (US soccer player Tim Howard)
  • Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world. (Actress Marilyn Monroe)
  • You can always count on them to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else. (Winston Churchill)

La hipérbole se clasifica como lenguaje figurativo (el uso de palabras de una manera inusual o imaginativa). Muy a menudo, se presenta en forma de símil (que compara una cosa con otra). Por ejemplo:

  • Lee ’s arms were like strands of cotton hanging from his T-shirt.
    (This is a hyperbolic simile.)

Hyperbole can also be presented in the form of a metaphor (which states that one thing is another). For example:

  • His cigar was a smoldering Zeppelin that assured no intrusion into his personal space.
    (This is a hyperbolic metaphor.)

Hyperbole Portrays the Writer’s Bias

A normal simile or metaphor (that is, a non-hyperbolic one) is useful because it provides an appropriate analogy that helps readers understand the original idea. With a hyperbolic simile or metaphor, the analogy is deliberately inappropriate but the exaggeration tells us the writer’s opinion of the original idea. In the simile example above, we can’t imagine how skinny Lee’s arms were, just that they were too skinny in the writer’s opinion. In the example of the metaphor, we cannot imagine how big the cigar was, only that it was huge in the writer’s opinion.

Why Should I Care about Hyperbole?

Hyperbole can be used to convey a message, opinion, or emotion in an interesting or clever way. Hyperbole is more common in everyday speech and verse (eg, poetry, songs) than in commercial prose, but it has some utility in business, particularly advertising.

If the truth of something is, say, 5/10, but you present it as 10/10 with hyperbole, then it will be hard for your audience to get all the way back to 5/10. Therefore, you shall have influenced them into your position.

  • “Probably the best lager in the world.“(Carlsberg slogan)
    (The famous Carlsberg slogan is a good example of hyperbole in advertising. Even if you don’t believe the claim, it leaves you with the idea that Carlsberg is at least a contender. Of interest, in its home country of Denmark, the slogan was“probably the best beer in town“because the Danish authorities did not allow hyperbole in advertising.)
  • Hyperbole should not be taken literally, but convey a truth. It’s a bit like drawing cartoons.

    • Cartooning is the truth of something through exaggeration. (American artist Bill Sienkiewicz)

    Key Point

    La hipérbole te permite:

    • To get your message across in an interesting or witty way.
    • To spread your opinion on a topic.
    • To influence your readers towards your position.

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