Vocabulary

Figure of Speech : Hyperbole

31-10-2015
English Teacher Website

Definition of Hyperbole

Hyperbole, a Greek word and is composed of two root words: “hyper” meaning “over” and “bole” meaning “to throw.” So “hyperbole” means “over throw” It is a figure of speech and tends to overstate a point.  It involves an exaggeration of ideas, made just to make emphasis. It is a tool that we usein our day-to-day speech.For example, when you meet a friend after a long time, youmay say, “Ages have passed since I last met.”

Other examples:

  • My grandfather is as old as the hills.
  • Your school bag weighs a ton!
  • My friendis as heavy as an elephant!
  • I am dying of shame.
  • I am trying to solve a million issues in school.


It is crucial not to confuse hyperbole with simile and metaphor. Hyperbole does make a comparison but unlike simile and metaphor, hyperbole has a humorous effect,which is created by an overstatement.

However, in literary works, it hasfar-reaching effects. By using hyperbole, a writer or a poet makes common human feelings outstandingand intense to such an extent that they do not remain ordinary. In literature, usage of hyperbole develops contrasts. When one thing is described with an over-statement, and the other thing isnormallypresented, a striking contrastis developed. Literary writers use this technique to catch the reader’s attention.

From Joseph Conrad’s novel “The Heart of Darkness”,

“I had to wait in the station for ten days-an eternity.”

Meaning:  The ten dayswait in the station seemed a lifetime wait, for it seemed a never ending wait.

EXAMPLES OF HYPERBOLE

  1. I sat for the easiest examination in the world.
  2. My mother is non-stop working.
  3. Angie has thousands of suits in her wardrobe.
  4. My friend, Lily has been teaching in this school since the Stone Age.
  5. The hero’s acting in the movie was so good that I’ve seen the movie at least two thousand times.
  6. This newpair of shoes is killing me.
  7. She will only complete her work inChristmas.
  8. My brother, a mechanic, knows everything about machinery.
  9. Futsal is the only game that ever mattered to him in his life.
  10. My mom is going to stand on pins and needles.
  11. Everyone knows that.
  12. My friend, Lalit never stops talking.
  13. You are the greatest person in the world.
  14. The children tried everything that they could to do well.

Posted By: Meena Mohan Das Category: Vocabulary

English Teacher Website

About Meena Mohan Das

Mrs. Meena Mohan Das is an elementary school teacher in Malaysia since July1988. She was born in Kluang, a district in the state of Johor. She obtained her certificate in Teacher Training from Mohd Khalid Teacher’s Training College in Johor Bahru, Johor. Her first posting was in Kupang Primary School in Kedah where she taught for six months. Thereafter, she moved to LKTP Felda Kemelah Primary school from 1989 to 1990 and subsequently to Sri Skudai Primary School in December 1990 till present. She has been the Head of the English Language Panel since 1995 in the present school. She has also been a recipient for a Merit Award in 2006 for excellent performance in school.  She obtained her Bachelor of Education in TESL in University Putra Malaysia in 2002. In 2014 she graduated from University Teknologi Malaysia with Masters in Teaching of English as a Second Language.  The research topics done are “Use Of Mind-Mapping and Flashcards in Vocabulary Development among Year 5 Students” and “Process Writing to Enhance Writing Abilities among Year 5 Students”. She has co-authored a journal with Dr Shanthi Sandaran on “The Importance of Vocabulary Development for English Language Teaching and Learning: The Malaysian ESL Context”. 

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