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Exaggeration

  • By: Roger J. Kreuz & Monica A. Riordan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The term exaggeration, from the Latin for “to heap up,” refers to statements that make claims beyond the limits of truth or represent something as greater than it really is. Some definers emphasize the idea of enlarging or increasing beyond what would normally be expected, while others focus on the deliberate and frequently humorous nature of such statements. Exaggeration often consists of contrasts of degree, particularly in number (e.g., “thousands”), quantity (e.g., “bucketsful”), space (e.g., “massive”), time (e.g., “forever”), and intensity (e.g., “absolute”). Some statements can be so frequently used they become conventionalized and are no longer perceived as exaggerations (e.g., “I spent a fortune!”). Synonyms include amplification, embellishment, hyperbole, magnification, and overstatement.

Usage and Forms

Exaggeration is typically verbal in nature, but it can also be ...

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