Introduction to Figurative Language: Hyperbole

Contributor: Kristen Gardiner. Lesson ID: 10473

This lesson is so good that I can taste it! Hyperbole is so much fun; I laughed my head off! Learn how using hyperbole makes you the best writer ever!


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Hyperbole: Exaggerating for Effect

Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration used to emphasize a point. It adds interest and humor to writing and even everyday speech.

It is a literary device used often in writing to help capture and hold the reader's attention.

Here is an example of how hyperbole may be used in everyday speech.

You see a friend you have not seen in a few months and say, "Ages have passed since I last saw you." Using the word ages exaggerates this statement to emphasize the time since you last saw that person.

Therefore, a hyperbole is an unreal exaggeration to emphasize the actual situation.

It is important not to confuse hyperbole with simile and metaphor. Hyperbole does make a comparison, but unlike simile and metaphor, hyperbole has a humorous effect created by intentional exaggeration.

Look at a few more examples to see the exaggeration in action.

Example #1: I was so embarrassed I could die!

Dying from embarrassment is probably impossible. However, in this statement, the person speaking must have done something so embarrassing that they feel that this statement is valid.

The emphasis is on the embarrassing situation and how the speaker feels.

Example #2: The line for the ride was ten miles long!

  • No one enjoys waiting in line, but could you imagine waiting in a line that was ten miles long?

The speaker is exaggerating exactly how long the line was, but we can gather from the statement that the line was extremely long. This exaggeration adds some wow factor, especially if the speaker waited in line and made it to the ride.

Adding Interest and Humor to Your Writing Using Hyberpole

Hyperbole is a form of figurative language, and the primary purpose of figurative language is to add a sense of personal style, creativity, and interest to your writing.

Hyperbole can make your writing more colorful and even add a bit of humor when appropriate.

Look at some sentences with and without hyperbole to gain an understanding of what hyperbole can do for your writing.

Example #1: These are the worst pancakes I have ever eaten.

This is not hyperbole. This sentence is bland and straight to the point.

  • How could hyperbole be used to convey that these pancakes are awful?

Revised Examples

  • I've eaten play dough pancakes that put these to shame.
  • These pancakes taste like cardboard.
  • I'd sooner eat a scoop of garbage than finish these pancakes.

These examples imply that the pancakes are the worst but in a more creative and interesting way.

Example #2: I like my teacher a lot.

This is not hyperbole. It is a realistic statement.

Revised Examples

  • My teacher is the most awesome in the world.
  • My teacher should win the National Teacher of the Year award for awesomeness.
  • My teacher stole my heart and brain!

These statements tell that the student likes their teacher uniquely.

Example #3: It takes you a long time to prepare.

Again, it's not a hyperbole, just a straightforward sentence.

Revised Examples

  • It's taking you a million years to prepare.
  • Will you be ready in this millennium?
  • Eternity will come and go before you are ready.

These hyperboles all reveal that a person takes a long time to prepare.

Hyperboles as Jokes

Example #1: I laughed so hard I was rolling on the floor!

One of the real-world applications of hyperbole, aside from poetry and creative writing, is comedy. Many comedians, sitcom writers, and comedic movie writers use hyperbole as a primary source of humor.

My dog is so scruffy we must pay the fleas to live on him.

My sister uses so much makeup that my Mom doesn't know when she takes it off.

Their house is so big I needed a map to find the bathroom.

  • Which of these jokes have you heard before?

But be careful. There is a fine line between being funny and being downright mean. Use hyperbole as a joke only if you are sure no feelings will be hurt.

  • Can you think of any hyperbole examples in your favorite song or movie?

You can also seek to identify hyperbole in books you are reading or in American folklore, such as the story of Paul Bunyan, Davey Crockett, and John Henry.

  • How does hyperbole enhance these stories?
  • Why do you think hyperbole was so popular in folklore?

Review what you have learned with the video below before moving on.

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