Greeking Out on Hyperbole and the Winter Olympics

I am the hyperbole queen and didn’t even know what it meant. I must have been sick that day. When friends said, “You’re so hyperbolic,” I probably thought they said, “hyperactive,” and nodded my head.

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder-_Big_Fish_Eat_Little_Fish

The original big fish story.

A hyperbole is an exaggeration that is not to be taken literally. The name for “exceeding the truth,” originated in the 1500’s in Greece.

That got me thinking. Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. It can’t be a coincidence. I can imagine some Greek god-looking dude saying, “Whoa. I threw that javelin like a thousand meters today. It raced with Cupid across the sky.”

800px-Albrecht_Dürer_-_Cupid_the_Honey_Thief_-_WGA07372

Cupid’s about to get stung by a zillion bees!

Greece was also the birthplace of Greek Mythology and Hercules. Take a look at the engraving below. Cacus may breathe fire, but both men are pretty average-sized. I imagined the God of Strength rippling with muscles. And what’s up with fighting naked? Vulnerability comes to mind, not strength. If this is what Hercules really looked like, than his character description is the epitome of hyperbole.

If he’s not careful, he may be headbutted by that cow and could fall into that spiky undergrowth. Youch!

800px-Hercules_killing_Cacus_at_his_Cave

All three of these renderings and the origin of hyperbole are from the 15th century. Coincidence?

“Bringeth on thou’s greatest exaggerations!” said no one ever. 

The meaning of hyperbole must have taken a really long time to travel to other countries. Just think of how everyone suffered until then:

BHBefore Hyperbole  – “The wood I splitteth must weigh…” He gazes down at logs in his arms. “Waiteth here for 36 seconds. I must retrieveth mine scale.” He carries the wood across room and drops it on the metal tray. “Yes. 67.3 pounds.”

Today – “It weighed a ton.”

BH – “Thou is late and hast makest me wait for,” pulls out pocket watch, “two hours, 48 minutes, and 32 seconds.”

Today – “I waited forever!”

BH - “Thy dwelling is so foul, five thousand virgins wearing rosewater could not conceal its unholy smell.”

Today – “It stinks like somebody died in here.”

Hyperbole is alive and well and can be found at the 2014 Olympic Games.

Here’s an example from Sage Kotsenburg. He’s on Team USA’s Slopestyle team and tweeted this before Shaun White dropped out.

The next tweet could be called an under-exaggeration.

Here’s a retweet from Shaun White promoting his new album.

I bet Team USA will win a boatload of medals in the 2014 Olympics. Okay. I may be  hyperbolic, but I can dream!

Do you tend to exaggerate? If you do, did you know you’re hyperbolic?

Related links:

NBC Winter Olympics Schedule

Hyperbole

Hyperbolic

 

 

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About susielindau

I am a Boulder, Colorado writer and artist who loves adventure both real and imagined. Come with me. It's always a Wild Ride!
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66 Responses to Greeking Out on Hyperbole and the Winter Olympics

  1. The Hook says:

    I always suspected you were descended from royalty, Susie…

    Like

  2. jbw0123 says:

    Thar be giants at the Olympics? That Serbian guy must weigh a ton!

    Love your images from ancient Greece. I’ll be exaggerating all day now.

    Like

  3. Michelle says:

    Best blog post ever!!!!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Awww! Thanks Michelle! I should have use a different title. Not as many people were pulled in by the word “hyperbole.”
      I should have said, “Read the wildest post ever!” Yep. I’m hyperbolic… :)

      Like

  4. claywatkins says:

    nothing beats the Olympics, nothing… it’s nationalism at its finest – GO USA. There is no wonder why many of Russia’s athletes train here, in the good ol’ USA.

    Like

  5. I use hyperbole all the time, like – all the time. But nobody notices, they just look at me funny…

    Great post! Must admit the Winter Olympics haven’t been too big a splash here in NZ. I think we have a team there. I know of a journalist who’s gone. Possibly it’s because I don’t watch TV rather than because of any lack of actual interest nationally.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Ha! A man after my own heart. I can imagine us talking to each other.
      “Wow, my blog post took me a thousand hours.”
      “Yeah, well mine required research from fifty sources.”
      We could go on like that for days, weeks, MONTHS!!!

      I missed the parade in last night after being caught in traffic. I just looked it up. You have 60 athletes!
      Hey the Jamaican bobsled team is back! I can’t wait to watch them. Here in the States, cable is providing on demand Olympics. We can watch anything we want! In the past skating and skiing/snowboarding dominated.
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  6. 4amWriter says:

    I hope to watch some of the Olympics this time. I missed them the last couple of times, which made me so angry I spit nails! ;)

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Good one!
      This year, you can watch EVERY event at your leisure on Pay-per-view only it’s free!
      Did you see the Opening Ceremonies? How did they project that? It was like a million holograms!

      Like

  7. pegoleg says:

    Exaggeration doth drop from my tongue in 43% of mine conversations. When it doth, I get me to my hyperbolic chamber and I am slightly improved, forthwith.

    Like

  8. Happy Hopping Hyperbole! Sean White has an album? An album of what? Me thinkest he’s bumpest his noggin twenty-seven times. Great post.

    Like

  9. Piper Bayard says:

    Shaun White has an album? I’d sooner expect my dog to win the gold in the Half Pipe Competition.

    Like

  10. rachelocal says:

    My husband is the master of hyperbole. Everything is his favorite. EVERYTHING.

    I love the connection you made here among the Greeks, hyperbole, and the Olympics. It’s my favorite. Ever.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Awww. Thanks! It’s been hard to get people to read this one. I think the title may haven’t them off. I should have called it, “This is the sexiest post you’ll ever read!” That would have hooked them!
      I am just like your husband!

      Like

  11. Are the Winter Olympics over yet? Did I miss it again this year? Did they add any new sports, involving ice and snow? I hear some people actually like ice and snow. Gotta go shovel again, seeya!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Opening Ceremonies are tonight and you can watch slope style this year. They plan to add synchronized half pipe in 2018. I wonder what kind of costumes they’ll wear?

      Like

      • I have ranted about the silly costumes that figure skaters wear, but you make a good point, I should give equal time to complaining about the grunge togs the snow boarders wear. I can’t imagine that dressing like a roadie for Nirvana makes those maneuvers any easier to pull off.

        Like

        • susielindau says:

          There’s a lot of color on the slopes this year. Snowboarders sit down in the snow a lot so their jackets are long, but I haven’t seen any flannel shirts this year. There is waaaay too much snow!

          Like

  12. The tweets during the Olympics prep and now are so entertaining! What did we do before Hyperbole and Tweets?? Awesome post – and I’m not exaggerating. :)

    Like

  13. Very enlightening (and witty) post, Susie. Now that you’ve educated us on the nuances of hyperbole, how the hell do you pronounce it? Is it Hi-Perb-Bolly or Hyper-Bowl?

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Hi per boly. That’s why I could never put the written word with the spoken word. It always looked pretty revolting like a hyper boil…

      Thanks V! I spent a bout a thousand hours on this one so I’m glad you stopped by!

      Like

  14. I call it using my IMAGINATION – ha! Happy Almost Weekend:)

    Like

  15. “Hyperbole” by any other name is still a “tall tale”. I tend to call it “Creative Licence”. ;-)

    Like

  16. tomwisk says:

    Hi Susie, I will not watch the Olympics. Not even if a thousand network execs came to my home and offered me a gazillion dollars to watch one minute. I learned my lesson during the Super Bowl, Four hours lost forever, into the ether.

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      It can be a time suck. The cool thing? Some cable providers have all the events listed under Pay-per-view only they’re free! Now you can see 5000 hours of Olympics! **temptation**

      Like

  17. colonialist says:

    I thought Hyperbole was like the Superbole, only bigger?

    Like

  18. Sandi Ormsby says:

    I’ve been off the boards for eons. Thanks for the great read. Eventually, I’ll return to blogging. Just working millions of hours. :)

    Sandi

    Like

  19. The Regular Guy NYC says:

    The Winter Olympics are so much fun but won’t be the same without Lindsey Vaughn and Shawn White. Plus, I have a bad feeling about these games in Russia when it comes to security and the safety of the athletes. They have already received terror threats. Keep fingers crossed.

    Like

  20. PapaBear says:

    Yuh done good…, an’ that’s about as hi per bolick as I get, pilgrim !

    Like

  21. Thou madeth me laugheth to the point of peeing in mine britches!

    Like

  22. El Guapo says:

    GREATEST POST EVEEERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

    Like

  23. Yatin says:

    The profession I am in, accuracy is paramount. Over or under can lead you to long term migraine. That said, creativity and hyperbole usually complement each other.
    To me Big-Bang theory is bit of an hyperbole (literally & metaphorically)!! :)

    Like

  24. Good to know hyperbole is alive and well. I know it’s pronounced, “high purbaly” but what if we changed that and had a new venue for a big football game. It could be the Hyperbowl. Think of the plays the teams could make. The sky’s the limit.

    Like

  25. Maggie C says:

    I readeth your blog and laughest for 25.2 seconds. Now I doth venture out as did Odysseus and travail the 9.2 meters to my coffee urn so I mayest refill my goblet and quaff of the nectar of Columbian beans.

    Like

  26. I try not to but sometimes kids need some exaggeration to get their butts in gears..:)

    Like

  27. Fun! Brilliant! World peace inducing post, Susie! (One of the aforementioned is hyperbolic. I leave it to you to decide.)

    Me? I would sooner poke myself in the eye with a hot stick than exaggerate.

    OK. So! I have at least a trillion boxes to unpack in our new and downsized home. Toodles.

    GO TEAM USA!! Win medals. More importantly: be SAFE!

    Like

    • susielindau says:

      Hey Gloria! Great to “see” you!
      Thanks so much! The ironic stars aligned for this one. 15th century, Greeks and Hyperbole. Who knew?

      Are you still in Texas? Congrats on the new homestead!

      Like

  28. Anonymous says:

    That Serb is a big lad!

    Like

  29. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Brilliant post, Susie. Now I know exactly what hyperbole is and how to do that!

    Like

  30. Bees scare the professor. I fear for Cupid.

    Like

  31. markbialczak says:

    I think this is the best post that combined the innards of the word hyperbole and the tweets of Winter Olympians I’ve ever read, Susie. Great job.

    Like

  32. viveka says:

    What a post … some brilliant work you have put in here, Susie – Team America always takes loads of medals – and now when Russia is all split up .. I don’t think anyone can beat you.
    Anyhow I will only look at the ice hockey … not an Olympic person – I rather get lost in the Oscars. I know, how sad. But bring the games on .. watch some snowboarding this morning – Swede doing okay.

    Like

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