What is hyperbole? (Hi-per-bo-lee)

Hyperbole is a fancy way of saying that you are exaggerating. What that means is you’re saying something that isn’t meant to be taken as really being true:

“I have been waiting here forever!”

“This bag weighs a ton!”

“I am dying of laughter over here!” (Get it? That’s why I put the creepy skull that kind of looks like it’s laughing…)

Why do we use hyperbole?

Quite often, hyperbole is used simply for humor, but to say that that is the only thing that hyperbole is good for would be too simple. Hyperbole can also allow us to feel EMPATHY or PATHOS for characters, too.

When Macbeth says “Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?” after killing his King, he isn’t asking a serious question. Macbeth doesn’t really BELIEVE that his hand can’t be cleaned, but the use of hyperbole here helps the reader to EMPATHIZE with him for a moment: he feels so guilty for what he has done, and he can never change his actions now.