What does Hyperbole Mean in English?

Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which the speaker exaggerates or magnifies something to make it sound more important or more extreme than it actually is. For example, you can say that someone is “crazy” by saying that they are “completely insane”. Hyperbole is often used in poetry.

For example, in the poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud“,  the speaker says that “ten thousand I saw at a glance“, which does not mean that he saw 10,000 things at once but its an exaggerated statement to show that there were a lot of flowers.

10 Examples of Hyperbole (Figure of Speech)

Here are some examples of Hyperbole in poetry:

  1. In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the narrator describes the mariner’s journey as “a tale of terror”, which means that it was a scary story.
  2. In “A Night at an Inn” by John Keats, the speaker says that his heart is “pierced with the poignancy of [his] fate”.  The speaker is using hyperbole because the phrase, “pierced with the poignancy of” sounds like something a heart surgeon would say.
  3. In “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the speaker says that he saw the lady, “gliding on a silver streak / Across the sleeping landscape”, which means that he saw her in a dream.
  4. In “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud“, by William Wordsworth, the speaker says that he saw “a thousand blooms / At once” when he was walking in the park. The word “a thousand” is used to magnify the number of flowers and make it sound more dramatic.
  5. In “The Charge of the Light Brigade“, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the speaker describes the charge of the cavalry as a “madness”. This means that it was really crazy.
  6. In “The Charge of the Light Brigade“, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the speaker says that his horse “reared and plunged” when they were charging towards the enemy. This is an example of hyperbole because the word “reared” means that his horse was acting like a real horse, not like a cartoon horse.
  7. In “The Battle of Trafalgar”, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the speaker says that the British sailors fought bravely at Trafalgar. This means that they did not run away from the battle like cowards.
  8. In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner“, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the speaker describes the mariner’s voyage as “a tale of terror”. This is an example of hyperbole because the phrase, “a tale of terror” sounds like something a scary movie would say.
  9. In “To the Isle of Skye” by Robert Louis Stevenson, the speaker says that he is in a “land of wonders”.The land of wonders can be compared to the other lands described in the story.
  10. In “A Night at an Inn”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the speaker says that they are “in the middle of a dark forest”.
  11. In “The Cask of Amontillado”, by Edgar Allan Poe, the speaker describes the situation as “a night of horror” etc

What Does Hyperbole Mean in a Sentence?

It can be used to emphasize an idea or make it more intense. For example, if someone said: “I am going to murder you!” you could say “Oh, no! That is hyperbole.” Because the person is using a phrase with no literal meaning, it is meant to make a point.