Hyperbole vs. Hype

Are you excited? We are. Hyperbole is a literary device that relies on exaggeration, while hype is a word associated with excitement and publicity.

Hyperbole

Hyperbole is extreme exaggeration. It’s not meant to be taken literally. Writers use hyperbole to create imagery, emphasize feelings, or provide insight about a character. Hyperbole appears in novels, songs, poems, and daily speech.

The song “1,000 Miles” by Vanessa Carlton contains a clear example of hyperbole. She sings, “‘Cause you know I’d walk a thousand miles/If I could just see you tonight.” Carlton exaggerates to emphasize the strength of her romantic feelings. She doesn’t intend to actually walk 1,000 miles.

Hyperbolic phrases are common in daily speech, especially when expressing frustration. Someone struggling to lift a heavy box might exclaim “This weighs a ton!” even though the box doesn’t literally weigh one ton. Similarly, someone standing in line might complain “This is taking forever!” even if they’ve only been waiting a few minutes.

Difference Between Hyperbole and Metaphors

In practice, hyperbole might resemble a metaphor, which is a comparison between two things. However, there are a few key differences. Hyperbole always uses exaggeration, while metaphors sometimes do. This is a metaphor: “His words were music to my ears.” The speaker compares words to music. In contrast, a hyperbolic version of the same idea would be “That’s the greatest thing anyone has ever said.”

Hype

To be hyped means to be excited. When you use hype in this way, you should also follow it with a preposition. For example, someone with a new job might say, “I’m so hyped about starting next week.”

Without a preposition, hype might also mean to promote something, usually with extravagant methods. As a noun, hype means publicity, though it can also describe questionable advertising methods.