(To listen to this entry being read out loud, click here.) - Thanks to Rhinospike!

When you exaggerate a fact, you state it much more extremely than it actually is. You can exaggerate things like numbers, sizes, lengths of time, emotions, degrees of like or dislike, and many other characteristics.

For example, if you've been waiting for someone for 15 minutes and are annoyed about it, you might say to them when they show up:

I've been waiting here since last year!

If you saw a movie that you liked and are enthusiastic about, you can say:

That was the best movie ever.

So here's how to exaggerate:

  1. Pick a characteristic that you want to emphasize. For example, you are describing a tall man and want to emphasize how tall he is.
  2. Pick a value that is much greater than the real value. The value you choose needs to be a lot higher than the true value, so that the listener can tell that you're not speaking realistically. So, for example, you can describe the tall man as "9 feet tall" (or "3 meters tall" if you use the metric system).
  3. When you are speaking, make sure to stress the exaggeration. Say the part of the sentence louder than the rest: "I looked up and saw this man. And he was nine feet tall! So I said to him..."

English speakers use exaggeration often in spoken conversation, especially when telling stories. The reasons for exaggerating are to emphasize an idea and make it sound more interesting and entertaining.

(Print this article)