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Hyperbole is a figure of speech you use when you want to exaggerate what you mean or emphasize a point. It comes from the Greek word to mean “excess” and is often used to make something sound much bigger, better, funnier, or more dramatic than it actually is. Hyperbole is a useful tool in language.
In American and British English, hyperbole is pronounced ‘HI-PUR-BOW-LEE’.
Here are some examples of hyperbole
- There’s enough food on the table to feed an entire army!
- I’m so hungry, I could eat an elephant.
- It took forever to climb the hill.
- My legs felt like jelly after riding the rollercoaster.
- These shoes are killing me!
Let’s look specifically at the first example. Here, the speaker doesn’t literally mean that there’s enough food on the table to feed the hundreds of people in an army. Instead, the speaker is using hyperbole to exaggerate the amount of food that they have and that it is more than enough to feed the number of people present.
Hyperbole can also be used to make something sound much worse than it actually is. For example: “My shoes are killing me!” – the speaker doesn’t literally mean that the shoes are attacking the wearer and will kill them, but it is using hyperbole to be dramatic and emphasize their opinion that their shoes are causing them a lot of discomfort or pain.
Examples of Hyperbole in Everyday Speech
Take a look at the following list of hyperbolic phrases. How many of them have you heard or used before?
- He’s running faster than the wind.
- The teacher asked us to be quiet a million times.
- It was so cold, even the polar bears were shivering.
- This bag weighs a ton.
- There were a million questions in the math test today.
- That man is as tall as a house.
- That trend is as old as the dinosaurs.
- This is the worst day of my life.
- I’d never do that. Not in a million years!
- My dad will kill me when he comes home.
- That guy has tons of money.
- Your skin is softer than silk.
- She’s as skinny as a toothpick.
- She was so happy; her smile was a mile wide.
- The footballer is the best player of all time.
- I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
- It’s impossible to complete this puzzle.
- Next Friday is never going to arrive.
- I’ve read this book a hundred times.
- My hand hurts so much it’s going to drop off.
- My fingers are so cold, they’re going to shatter!
- My brother is stronger than iron.
- She’s my guardian angel.
- Your brain is the size of a pea.
- I’m so sad that I’m drowning in tears.
- The leaves are dancing in the breeze.
How to use Hyperbole (so it’s not a total disaster)
There are a few things to keep in mind when using hyperbole. Firstly, you want to figure out whether you’re wanting to exaggerate a feeling or the volume and quantity of something. For example, I was so excited I was going to explode! demonstrates that the person was extremely excited for something. Whereas, I had a mountain of homework to do describes the large volume of assignments that the person needed to complete.
The next step is to ensure that your choice of hyperbole makes sense and sounds natural. It would be awkward to say our homework was the size of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is tall, but it’s better suited to describing length and height rather than volume.
Examples of Hyperbole in Poetry and Literature
Hyperbole is often used in poems and books because it helps to emphasize part of the story and evoke a response from the reader. Hyperbole can help the writer to get their point across so that you understand the emotion, seriousness or humor of the situation.
For example, in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” he writes:
“Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No.”
In this example, Macbeth is using hyperbole to say that not even an entire ocean could wash his hands clean. Macbeth is using hyperbole to exaggerate the situation.
In her book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the author Harper Lee writes:
“A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County.”
In this example, the author is using hyperbole to emphasize how slow and boring the town is. The hyperbolic phrases in this sentence help the reader to understand the situation as, without them, the sentence doesn’t appear as emotive. Have a go at re-writing Harper Lee’s sentence above without the hyperbole and see how it sounds!
The following poem by Shel Silverstein, titled “Rain”, shows some great examples of hyperbole. Can you identify them?
I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.
I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use hyperbole worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what hyperbole is and how it can be used. You can use these hyperbole worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is hyperbole?
Hyperbole is a figure of speech that refers to the use of exaggerated statements and is not meant to be taken literally.
What is the purpose of using hyperbole?
Hyperbole is mostly used in everyday conversations as well as literary pieces to elicit strong emotions, emphasize a point, or create powerful effects.
What are some examples of hyperbole?
There are many ways that one can turn to hyperbole. For example, in complaining about a chilly climate or temperature, one may say, “The cold is freezing me to death!” One of the most popular hyperbole examples is “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”
In what poems or other pieces of literature can the use of hyperbole be found?
Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Shel Silverstein’s Rain are just some of the famous works of literature in which the use of hyperbole can be observed.
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Link will appear as Hyperbole Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 15, 2022
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.