A hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration used to make a point. It is like the opposite of “understatement.” It is from a Greek word meaning “excess.”
Hyperbole is an excellent tool for writers. Since we want to create vivid descriptions for readers, what better way than an extreme exaggeration to make a point?
"There did not seem to be brains enough in the entire nursery, so to speak, to bait a fishhook with."
---Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
"People moved slowly then. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County."
---Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
As crafty as writers can be, I nominate parents as the best users of hyperbole.
Think about it, what parent hasn't said, "I've told you a million times"? Or, a favorite one from prior generations: "I walked to school uphill, both ways." Another fun one, "I'll knock you from here till next Tuesday."
What's your favorite hyperbole? My daughter votes for, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."
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