Hyperbole in Public Speaking | Figure of Speech

In the 5th century BC, there was a Greek politician, Hyperbolus, who frequently made exaggerating and magnifying statements along with promises that drove people into a frenzy. Having such a profound habit of exaggerating things, many may think that the English word "Hyperbole" is derived from his name, but in reality it is derived from a Greek verb "Hyperballien", meaning "to exceed" . Therefore through the medium of this blog, we aim to cover the meaning of hyperbole, its uses in public speaking and some well-known examples.

Hyperbole in Public Speaking

Hyperbole a figure of speech

The Oxford Dictionary describes a hyperbole as “a way of speaking or writing that makes something sound better, more exciting, more dangerous, etc. than it really is''. Whereas in the Collins Dictionary, a hyperbole is an expression that is used to “say or write things that make something sound much more impressive than it really is”. It is a rhetorical device used to increase the impact of the speech and give weight to your statement. It is not supposed to have literal meaning.

How to use a hyperbole?

Points to remember while using hyperbole:

  • While using hyperbole in public speaking, first think of the person, object, place or idea you want to describe about and then think of the quality you want to exaggerate like size, difficulty or beauty. Some examples include:

1. The house (object) was so big that the whole city can fit in it. (size)

2. He (person) is as old as hills. (age)

  • The main purpose of it is to emphasis something or to make a mind blowing effect on the reader or listener. So try to come up with a creative exaggeration for it.

  • Degrees of comparison or adjectives can be employed for this figure of speech to illustrate exaggeration. Good instances are:

1.She is the most beautiful person I have seen. (degree of comparison)

2. I had a ton of homework. (adjective)

  • These can be one word, a group of words, a phrase or a clause. To exemplify:

1.I am so hungry that I can eat a horse.

2.He completed the quiz faster than the speed of light.

3.Red Bull gives you wings. (Advertisement of Red Bull)

  • Lastly, hyperbole is just an exaggeration and should not be taken literally.

Great Speeches with Hyperbole

  • "Freedom is my birthright. So long as it is awake within me, I am not old. No weapon can cut this spirit, no fire can burn it, no water can wet it, no wind can dry it."- Freedom is My Birthright, Bal Gangadhar Tilak

  • “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of human talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House — with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." - White House dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners, President John F. Kennedy

Adding more effect on your message through Hyperbole.

Some Daily Uses of Hyperbole

  • I have been waiting for an eternity.

  • I cannot live without my phone for a minute.

  • That house was humongous, it could have inhabited the whole city.

Hyperbole is applied to accentuate the thoughts, ideas and images presented while speaking and create an overall dramatic effect. We have discussed the meaning, usage and some examples of it in this blog. For any queries or to submit a guest post, please contact us or mail us at cityoneintitiative@gmail.com .

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