; "HYE-per-bowl" is a mispronunciation) comes from Greek "υπερβολή" (meaning exaggeration) and is a figure of speech
in which statements are exaggerated
. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not
meant to be taken literally.
Hyperbole is used to create emphasis. It is a literary device often used in poetry, and is frequently encountered in casual speech.
Some examples include:
- These books weigh a ton. (weigh a great deal)
- I could sleep for a year. (for a long time)
- I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse. (eat anything)
- Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system. (an important place)
- -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," Ch. 6
- "Ladies and gentlemen, I've been to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together." (using hyperbole to illustrate the use of hyperbole)
- -Kent Brockman, The Simpsons, Kamp Krusty, Episode 8F24.
Antonyms to hyperbole include meiosis, litotes, understatement, and bathos (the 'let down' after a hyperbole in a phrase).
Derived from the Greek ὑπερβολή (literally 'overshooting' or 'excess'), it is a cognate of hyperbola.