Hyperbole (/hˈpɜːrbəli/; Ancient Greek: ὑπερβολή, huperbolḗ, from ὑπέρ (hupér, 'above') and βάλλω (bállō, 'I throw')) is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. In rhetoric, it is also sometimes known as auxesis (literally 'growth'). In poetry and oratory, it emphasizes, evokes strong feelings, and creates strong impressions. As a figure of speech, it is usually not meant to be taken literally.[1][2]


Hyperbole is often used for emphasis or effect. In casual speech, it functions as an intensifier:[3][4] saying "the bag weighed a ton" or "I've been walking for hours;”[5] simply means that the bag was extremely heavy.[6] A hyperbole can be used for serious, ironic, or comic effects.[7] An example of an hyperbole that is used for serious effect occurs in the Christian bible: “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:30a).[8] Understanding hyperboles and their use in context can help understand the speaker's point. Hyperbole generally conveys feelings or emotions from the speaker, or from those who the speaker may talk about. It can be used in a form of humor, excitement, distress, and many other emotions, all depending on the context in which the speaker uses it.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Hyperbole". Dictionary.com. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "Hyperbole". Utk.edu. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Definition of Hyperbole". Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Hyperbole - Definition of hyperbole by Merriam-Webster". merriam-webster.com.
  5. ^ Mahony, David (2003). Literacy Tests Year 7. Pascal Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-877-08536-9.
  6. ^ "Hyperbole". Byu.edu. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  7. ^ M. H. Abrams and Geoffrey Harpham, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 11th ed. (Boston: Cengage, 2015), p. 165
  8. ^ James L. Resseguie, Narrative Criticism of the New Testament: An Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 62.
  9. ^ Johnson, Christopher. "The Rhetoric of Excess in Baroque Literature and Thought" (PDF). Scholar.havard.edu. Harvard.

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