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Hyperbole (/hˈpɜrbəl/ hy-PUR-bə-lee;[1] Greek: ὑπερβολή hyperbolē, "exaggeration") is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.[2]

Hyperboles are exaggerations to create emphasis or effect. As a literary device, hyperbole is often used in poetry, and is frequently encountered in casual speech. An example of hyperbole is: "The bag weighed a ton."[3] Hyperbole makes the point that the bag was very heavy, though it probably does not weigh a ton.

In rhetoric, some opposites of hyperbole are meiosis, litotes, understatement, and bathos (the 'letdown' after a hyperbole in a phrase).


  1. ^ "Hyperbole". Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Hyperbole". Dictionary.com. Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ Mahony, David (2003). Literacy Tests Year 7. Pascal Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-877-08536-9. 

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