“I’ve told you a million times, haven’t I?” But was it really a million times?
Hyperboles are fun to say. They add excitement and ridiculousness to an otherwise plain and dull statement. You can use them to connect the quality of something (how important it is, how boring it is, etc.) to something else by making exaggerated comparisons.
Here are some fun ones:
– “It was so cold that I saw polar bears wearing jackets.”
– “I’m so hungry that I could eat a horse.”
– “I am dying of embarrassment.” (Were you really dying?)
– “I have a ton of homework.” (Was it really a ton? I bet if you weighed it, it was less than a pound.)
You see hyperboles everywhere. They are used in our everyday language and in poetry. They are not, however, commonly used in serious, academic writing, such as essays or research. Because they range from silly to insane, hyperboles are best kept to informal conversation or comic/emotional effect.
Here’s a poem from W. H. Auden that exemplifies hyperbole:
“As I Walked One Evening”
I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street
I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
Without hyperbole, we might not have understood exactly how much W. H. Auden loved his wife. A plain sentence equivalent might have been: “I’ll love you, dear, for a very, very long time.” …Not quite as emotional or interesting, is it?