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The Use of Hyperbole

Hyperbole /hʌɪˈpəːbəli/ – over exaggerating a statement to emphasise the meaning and purpose of it.

Examples of hyperbole:

“I’ve told you a thousand times.” – this person most likely hasn’t told them one thousand times, but it is used to give a sense of urgency due to the receiver not doing what they’ve asked in the past.

“My feet are killing me.” – it is quite unlikely that this person’s feet are killing them, but it is used to emphasise the feeling of discomfort they have in their feet.

my feet are killing me hyperbole

“I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse. – used to show others that this person is feeling very hungry – not to be taken literally.

so hungry I could eat a horse hyperbole

“He was the coldest person in the world.” – a superlative used to emphasise how cold this person is.

The use of hyperbole appears in every day chat, as well as in adverts, comedy and entertainment industries. Its main purpose is to outline the emotion felt in a statement – exaggerating it to make it clear to the reader or listener.

Hyperbole has also been used in literature for many centuries, for example, heroic dramas where the emphasis is on power and magnificence, often use the hyperbole to boost the epic nature of the genre.

Adverts often contain hyperbole in an attempt to persuade the customer that the product/service is something that they need.

Hyperbole is the best thing ever (see what I did there?).

Accredited by the British Council English UK Quality English young Learners English UK RALSA Cambridge English - Exam Preparation Centre Trinity College London