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hyperbole (hy-PUHR-buh-lee) noun

A figure of speech in which obvious exaggeration is used for effect.

[From Latin, from Greek hyperbole (excess), from hyperballein, from hyper- (beyond) + ballein (to throw).]

When you employ hyperbole in your discourse, you are doing what a devil does (to throw), etymologically speaking. The word devil ultimately comes from Greek diaballein (to throw across, slander). Some other words that share the same root are ballistic, emblem, metabolism, parable, problem, parabola, and symbol. What an unlikely bunch of words to claim the same parentage!

"Kathakali: Where Gods and Demons Come to Play is a thoroughly well-researched book, tautly written, clinically shorn of all stylistic hyperbole and perfectly produced with notes, references, glossary and so on."
Books: When Two Don't Tango; India Today (New Delhi); Jan 14, 2002.

"He once made the mistake of pumping up the volume in a letter sent to a university in Britain, where hyperbole is not the norm. The student was excellent; he called her `outstanding'. The next thing he knew, he was the one getting called -- by the search committee. They wanted to know if the letter had been forged."
Alison Schneider; How to Read Those Academic Job References; The Australian (Sydney); Jul 19, 2000.

This week's theme: words about words.


No two persons ever read the same book. -Edmund Wilson, critic (1895-1972)

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