Do you need some hyperbole examples to add to your stock of writing skills?
Are you ready to add excitement and drama to your work?
You can use hyperbole in various ways to make your writing have a bigger impact on readers.
It’s an excellent approach for adding emphasis when no single words are strong enough to evoke the feeling you want your readers to experience.
But if you’re uncertain which hyperboles will add pizazz to your prose, having some examples might get your creative juices a-flowin’!
With our list of hyperbole examples, your next writing piece will be the best piece of writing ever! (See what I did there?)
Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?
Hyperbole is figurative language or a literary device that uses deliberate and extreme exaggeration to create a strong emotional response from the reader, emphasize a statement, or add a sense of drama.
For example, you might say I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
You couldn’t literally eat an entire horse. Still, you want to emphasize how hungry you are and how enormous your appetite is.
Why Use Hyperbole?
There are many reasons a writer might use hyperbole in their work:
- You could use hyperbole to exaggerate a point.
- You might want to emphasize something about an event, person, or situation.
- You might use it as a rhetorical device to persuade readers to the narrator’s point of view with a more compelling argument.
For example, That copywriting course is the best thing ever to happen to copywriters everywhere.
I mean, the course might be good, but for it to be the best thing ever for copywriters everywhere is hyperbole.
You can also use hyperbole to:
- Make or emphasize a point
- Show contrast between two ideas
- Grab the reader’s attention
- Set the scene for the story
- Add interest to an otherwise bland description
- Add humor to the situation
You do need to be careful not to overuse it in your writing. Hyperbole will lose its effect if everything is hyperbolic.
Examples of Hyperbole from Everyday Speech
We often use hyperbole in everyday speech to make things more dramatic than they really are. Sometimes it’s to be humorous, but occasionally it’s to target other powerful emotions.
Here are a few common examples of hyperbole you’ll find in everyday conversation. How many times have you used any of the following hyperbolic statements?
- I’m dying of laughter.
- This box weighs a ton.
- I haven’t seen him in a million years.
- Our neighbor is older than dirt.
- This was the best day ever.
- I waited in line at the pharmacy forever.
- She thought she would die of embarrassment.
- My 16th birthday will never come.
- This knee brace is killing me.
- They’ve got more money than God.
- I have a million things to do this week.
- Their new house cost a gazillion dollars.
- When we were younger, we were so poor we didn’t have two cents to rub together.
- She has tons of makeup.
- You could’ve knocked me over with a feather.
- He loves you more than life itself.
- I’m so angry, I could eat a hat.
- He was dying of thirst.
- That baby is the cutest thing ever.
- There was an ear-splitting shriek.
- It’s so cold, you’ll get hypothermia the second you step outside.
- I’m addicted to buying books.
- I’ve been buried under a mountain of editing.
- That is the worst thing I’ve ever heard.
- The chocolate cake was the best cake ever.
- This assignment is going to be the death of me.
Examples of Hyperbole from Literature
Writers use hyperbole in literature to emphasize character traits or story themes.
But more important, hyperbole grabs the reader’s attention and pulls them into the story.
Let’s dive into some examples.
27. Old Times on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
I was quaking from head to foot, and could have hung my hat on my eyes, they stuck out so far.
Obviously, it was an exaggeration to say the narrator’s eyes stuck out that far, but Twain wanted to emphasize the speaker’s fear and shock.
28. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
I had to wait in the station for ten days—an eternity.
While we are all familiar with the difficulty of waiting, we also know that waiting for ten days isn’t an eternity, even if it feels like it in the moment.
29. A Man May Tear a Jewel by Bhartrihari
A man may tear a jewel
From a sea monster’s jaws,
Cross a tumultuous sea
Of raging tides,
Or twine garlandwiseA wrathful serpent on his head.
But no man can alter
The thoughts of an obstinate fool.
Bhartrihari wants us to understand how difficult it is to convince someone they are wrong. He says it would be easier to wrestle a sea monster for a jewel or wrap a snake around your head.
30. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
There was a firestorm out there. Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn.
Here Vonnegut uses hyperbole to show the readers how intense and horrifying it was in Dresden right after the World War II bombing.
31. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No. This hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
Shakespeare uses hyperbole to show how shameful and revolted Macbeth feels after killing King Duncan. He says his hands are so red with blood that washing them in the sea would turn the sea red.
32. As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden
I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain,
And the salmon sing in the street.
Auden uses hyperbole to show us his love is so profound, so great that rivers will jump over mountains.
33. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Molasses buckets appeared from nowhere, and the ceiling danced with metallic light.
Harper Lee uses hyperbole to show how the buckets seemed to appear from thin air.
Examples of Hyperbole from Film & TV
Hyperbole in movies and tv makes for memorable lines we quote repeatedly. How many of these lines from film have you used in your life?
34. Toy Story
To infinity and beyond!
You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee. Great job, everybody.
36. A Christmas Story
(Ralphie) I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
(Mother Parker) No. [You’ll] Shoot your eye out.
37. Love Story
Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
38. Despicable Me
A unicorn! He’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!
39. 101 Dalmatians
I’m hungry, Mother, I’m hungry…I’m so hungry I could eat a whole elephant!
40. The Sandlot
(Ham) You want a s’more? (Smalls) I haven’t had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?
(Ham) You’re killin’ me, Smalls!
41. Beauty and the Beast
When I was a lad, I ate 4 dozen eggs every morning to help me get large. And now that I’m grown, I eat 5 dozen eggs, so I’m roughly the size of a barge.
42. From The Princess Bride
You mocked me once. Never do it again! I died that day! You can die, too, for all I care!
I’m king of the world!
44. Gone With the Wind
As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again.
45. Old Spice Advertising
Remember those wild Old Spice commercials with fast-moving and over-the-top imagery that kept you glued to the TV and hanging on to every word?
Like this one:
This is by design.
You see, visual hyperbole in advertising is crazy-effective at gaining our attention and showcasing product features and benefits, at least that’s what the science says.
Not only does visual hyperbole make the ad entertaining, but the humorous effect leaves a strong impression that helps you remember the product too.
Talk about a win-win.
Examples of Hyperbole from Songs
Hyperbole helps songwriters paint a vivid picture for the listener. Here are some examples you might find familiar.
46. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door
47. I’d Lie for You (And That’s the Truth) by Meatloaf
I’d lie for you, and that’s the truth.
Do anything you ask me to
I’d even sell my soul for you
I’d do it all for you
If you just believe in me.
48. Grenade by Bruno Mars
I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
You know I’d do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
49. Blank Space by Taylor Swift:
Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t say, I didn’t warn ya
50. It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls
It’s raining men, hallelujah
It’s raining men, every specimen
Tall, blonde, dark, and lean
Rough and tough and strong and mean
51. So Happy I Could Die by Lady Gaga
Happy in the club, with a bottle of red wineStars in our eyes ’cause we’re having a good time
So happy I could die
52. Cry Me a River by Ella Fitzgerald
Now you say you’re lonely
You cried the long night through
Well, you can cry me a river
Cry me a river
I cried a river over you
53. Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Editor’s Note: I’ve linked to the Fugees cover of Killing Me Softly because my wife used to sing this version when we did Karaoke every Sunday night.
Yup, I used to be cool. Sort of.
(PS: Sorry, Roberta Flack)
54. Friends In Low Places by Garth Brooks
I’ve got friends in low places
Where the whiskey drowns
And the beer chases my blues away
And I’ll be okay
Hyperbole is sometimes confused with similes, metaphors, or idioms.
Simile and metaphor are literary terms used for comparisons, idioms are unique expressions, and hyperbole uses dramatic exaggeration to make a point.
Hyperbole vs. Simile
A simile uses the words like or as to make a comparison, but the comparison lacks the exaggeration of hyperbole.
Let’s look at the following simile.
Her smile was as bright as the sun.
It’s a bit of an exaggeration as nothing is as bright as the sun. But the point is made that she has a bright, engaging smile. And it’s not an unexpected comparison.
Now, look at a similar sentence using hyperbole.
That smile could move mountains. (Kylie Scott)
Now that is an exaggerated, attention-grabbing statement of hyperbole. After all, while one’s smile might be dazzling, it’s never going to move mountains.
Hyperbole vs. Metaphor
The difference between hyperbole and a metaphor is subtle but significant.
Hyperbole uses exaggeration to describe something, while metaphors use one thing to represent something else.
For example, if I were to say, It’s the North Pole out there, you’d know that I’m comparing how cold it is outdoors to the frigid temperatures of the North Pole.
Now consider this tale from Paul Bunyan.
Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue.
Paul uses deliberate and comedic exaggeration to describe just how cold that winter was.
Hyperbole vs. Idiom
An idiom is a phrase whose meaning is unclear based on the words used.
For example, if you say, I’m going to hit the sack, most people will know that you aren’t literally beating up cloth bags. They understand that it’s an expression meaning you are going to bed.
On the other hand, hyperbole is an exaggeration used to emphasize a point. For example, I’m so tired I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open. We all know it to be an exaggerated statement calling attention to how tired you are.
Are You Ready to Use These Hyperbole Examples In Your Writing?
These hyperbole examples are an excellent resource for your creative writing endeavors.
The next time you need to add a flashy or gripping element to your story, you can turn to hyperbole to reel your readers in and keep them hooked.
Whether you’re writing poetry or songs or the next Great American Novel, adding hyperbole to your work can make it the best thing since the invention of sliced bread.
Which hyperbole will you use first?