What is “hyperbole”?

From LitWiki

Hyperbole: an exaggeration meant for emphasis that is not meant to be taken literally. Hyperboles are also referred to as figures of speech. They exaggerate a point in order to bring attention to it. A common example would be:

    I sat in the doctors office for ages.

It is highly doubtful that a person actually sat in a waiting room for ages, but by reading this exaggeration, the reader gets the idea that this person was waiting for quite a while.

Where would I find hyperboles?

Hyperboles are used in everyday speech and in almost all types of writing.

Baldick states that hyperbolic expressions are also common in dramatic speech (103).

When should I not use hyperboles?

Do not use hyperboles when stating facts.

Also, be careful when using hyperboles, many of these figures of speech have become cliché (Hacker 142, 143).

    When the body builder lifted the bowling ball, it looked as light as a feather.

Concerned about clichés? See: When is something “clichéd” or “trite”?

Works Cited

Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.

Hacker, Diana. A Writer's Reference. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2003.