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.
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.”
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!
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:
BH – Before 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.
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?