A hyperbole is a type of figurative language in the English language.

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Hyperboles are obvious exaggerations.

Obvious means that it is easy to understand or clear to everyone.

An exaggeration is something that is described as larger or greater than it really is.

A hyperbole should not be understood literally
. That means that you cannot believe it word for word.

(To better understand the difference between figurative and literal meanings, read Figurative or Literal.)

Learn about hyperboles

Let us look at some examples of hyperboles.

If you have to tell your son multiple times to pick up his toys, you might say:

I told you a million times to pick up your toys!

This is an exaggeration because you did not literally tell your child a million times. You are exaggerating to make a point.

It is obvious to most people that you are exaggerating and did not really tell him a million times.

You are really saying that you have told him many times and do not want to tell him again.

messy room

Here is another hyperbole example.

When you are waiting in a long line, you might say:

I am going to be standing here forever!

This is an exaggeration because you will not literally be standing in the line forever. You might stand in the line for a long time, but eventually you will get to the end of the line.

This is figurative language meaning:

This is a long line.
I am going to be standing here for a while!

standing in line

We use hyperboles like these in speaking and writing to create emphasis or effect. They are also sometimes used to make a point.

Hyperboles and similes

Sometimes hyperboles can be in the form of a simile. A simile is a comparison of two things using the words "like" or "as."
  • Her feet are as big as boats.
    (She has large feet.)

  • The dog was as big as my car!
    (The dog was bigger than most dogs.)

  • Nick is as tall as a giraffe.
    (Nick is very tall.)

giraffe                        tall man

These are all hyperboles because they are obvious exaggerations. They are also similes because they are comparing two things using the words "like" or "as."

Hyperbole examples

Here are some more examples of hyperboles. Enjoy!
  • I was so hungry I could eat a horse.man with fish
    (I was very hungry and could eat a lot of food.)

  • The fish was almost as tall as me!
    (The fish was large.)

  • She jumped so high she could touch the sky!
    (She jumped very high in the air.)

  • Tim was so tired he slept for a year!
    (Tim slept a long time.)

  • The spider was bigger than my face!dishes
    (The spider was big.)

  • The man was so big, he had to use a tree for a toothpick.
    (The man is taller and bigger than most men.)

  • The dirty dishes were stacked to the ceiling.
    (There were a lot of dirty dishes.)

  • Susan was so mad, steam came out of her ears!
    (Susan was very mad.)

  • I have not seen him for an eternity.
    (I have not seen him for a long time.)

  • Lisa is as skinny as a toothpick.
    (Lisa is very skinny.)

    woman at work
  • I have a ton of work to do.
    (I have a lot of work to do.)

  • It is going to take me a billion years to finish my work!
    (I have a lot of work to do.)

  • If I do not get that job, I will die!
    (I really want the job!)

  • He is so old he was born when dinosaurs walked on earth.
    (He is very old. He was born a long time ago.)

    fat dog
  • My sister never stops talking.
    (My sister talks a lot.)

  • My dog is fatter than an elephant.
    (My dog is very fat.)

  • These shoes are killing my feet!
    (The shoes hurt my feet.)

  • Mom cooked enough food to feed an army.
    (Mom cooked enough food to feed a lot of people.)

  • They waited there for a century.
    (They waited for a very long time.)

This was an overview of hyperboles. Now that you understand, it is time to practice! Get our ESL Books.

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