Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hyperbole: Extreme Exaggeration

(originally posted in 2011)


Warning: PET LOVERS ... don't be offended by the following words ... it's just a hyperbole! :)

My dog is so ugly, he only has cats as friends.

Come on ... did it make you smile, just a little?!

Yes, it did.

First, I just like saying and thinking the word: hyperbole. I feel smarter just for knowing how to pronounce it.

Second, these can be so stinkin' funny ... but I have to admit, sometimes I have to scrunch my eyebrows before I fully understand certain ones.

According to YourDictionary.com:
"A hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration used to make a point. They would not be used in nonfiction works, like medical journals or research papers, but are perfect for fictional works, especially to add color to a character or humor to the story. Hyperboles are comparisons, like similes and metaphors, but are extravagant and even ridiculous."

Consider the following examples from Worsleyschool.net:
"My sister wears so much make-up, she leaves a color trail behind her when she walks," Grant K.
"My teacher is so old, she taught cave men how to start a fire," Aaron H.
"Saskatchewan is so flat, you can see your dog run away for 4 days!" Jenna.

HOWEVER, you must be careful when using hyperbole to avoid the dreaded cliches. When using a cliche, your hyperbole is dead on arrival and hinders rather than helps your writing.

Avoid the following over-used examples:
•I am so hungry I could eat a horse.
•I have a million things to do.
•I had a ton of homework.
•He is as skinny as a toothpick.
•We are so poor; we don’t have two cents to rub together.
•You could have knocked me over with a feather.
•Her brain is the size of a pea.
•He is older than the hills.

Do you employ an occasional hyperbole in your writing? Do you have a favorite?


  1. Karen - NO GUILT!!! Hyperbole is a GOOD thing! In my humble opinion. :)

  2. I love this word too! I'm sure I have some in my WIP, but now I'll be thinking about it more :)

  3. I have been known to use it a time or two myself.

  4. My entire immediate family is given to hyperbole. I'm convinced it's genetic.

  5. If it isn't hyperbole, it's puns. There should be a least one character in a story that employs them to give it a special flavoring.

  6. I'm sure I use hyperbole, but in typical me fashion, I won't get rid of it until someone makes me. It's just so much fun.

  7. Smile? It made me chuckle out loud. I love the word hyperbole and your comment about cliches is very apt since I have a blogfest scheduled on that very subject.

  8. These are great! You know, I never knew that this is what a hyperbole was and I'm finishing up an English degree! Just goes to show that there is an excellent education to be found in the A-Z Challenge :)

    Oh, an the quote by Ken Follet that shows up in your Twitter feed made me laugh out loud! And trust me when I say it is that English degree that gives me the confidence to laugh at that! It's so true!!

    Great post!

  9. Haha! H is for hyperbole and not hyphens! Silly me. I love your examples. I wished I was funny enough to use them in my stories.

  10. What a cute picture! And, yes, it did make me smile.

    Whenever I think of hyperbole, I now think of the Shatter me series by Tahereh Mafi. She does go over board, but somehow makes it work. I tend to mostly steer clear of them myself. It's hard to find ones that work well.

  11. I think we're so used to employing hyperbole that we hardly notice anymore when we use it.

  12. I use hyperbole so often that people don't know when to take me seriously. Well, not really. That was a bit of an exaggeration.

  13. My husband's favorite:

    He's so skinny, if he fell through his asshole, he'd hang himself.

  14. I learned the mathematical definition of "hyperbole" before the literary--I always think of graphs when I see the word!

  15. I speak in hyperboles so much, I don't even realize I'm exaggerating anymore.

    Unless I'm doing it on purpose.

  16. My mum was recently horrified because the Australian prime minister said, "I'll leave the HYPE-er-bowl to you". Yep, that's how she pronounced it!

  17. I don't use a lot of hyperbole in my writing, but I do use it as a parent almost every single day. And usually the ones on your list. ;-) I did Hyberbole today, too, so great minds must think alike.

    H = Handy Hyperbole

  18. I am pretty hungry at the moment and feel like eating like a hippo instead of a cow. ;)

  19. I love hyperbole! But I don't think I've ever used it in my writing.