Hyperbole: Exaggeration At Its Best

You must’ve used hyperbole a million times in your life. Your mom asked you 1,000 times not to leave your shoes out. Maybe your teacher even gave you a mountain of homework to finish tonight. Notice the pattern here? Everything is so exaggerated. That’s what hyperbole is! Hyperbole is a type of figurative language in which the writer exaggerates in order to emphasize an idea or create humor.

mountain of homework; hyperbole

The term “hyperbole” comes from a Greek word that means “excess.” And, because it’s figurative language, it’s not meant to be taken literally. Instead, they’re wildly outlandish statements, often quite ridiculous, and they’re excellent ways to grab and hold the reader’s attention when used appropriately.

How Can I Use Hyperbole?

The key to good hyperbole is to create a sentence that is obviously an exaggeration. If you don’t take it far enough, a reader may misconstrue the detail as accurate. For example, if we wanted to say that someone was really old, we wouldn’t write that “she was like 50 years old.” We’d exaggerate and say that she was “practically a skeleton” or “a thousand years old.” That way, the reader can clearly see that we’re using hyperbole.

Here are some more examples that might inspire you in your own hyperbolic writing:

  • The food was so spicy that I was practically breathing fire.
  • She cried a river of tears.
  • His new car was faster than lightning.
  • It was so cold outside that even the penguins were wearing coats and mittens.
  • She’s got cotton for brains.
  • Back then, we were so poor that we didn’t have two pennies to rub together.
  • You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.
  • Our principal was older than the pyramids.
  • If I get that job, I’ll die!
  • I’m so hungry I could eat a whole hippo.

Think about adding bits of hyperbole to your next essay or story! It’ll really take things over the top.