Hyperbole

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Hyperbole is a deliberate exaggeration used to emphasize a point with dramatic or comedic effect. One such example of dramatic hyperbole might be the following:

"I would jump off a cliff before I'd ever miss church."

The phrase "jump off a cliff" is not literal, but rather an exaggeration intended to emphasize how strongly the speaker feels about going to church.

An example of comedic hyperbole follows:

"My mother-in-law is so fat she has her own zip code."

Clearly this is an exaggeration, since, while the person's mother-in-law may indeed be very fat, she could not be anywhere near large enough to require her own zip code.

Advertising makes frequent use of hyperbole in order to draw attention to the positive aspects of a product and garner interest from consumers. A new toothpaste, automobile, or electronic gadget must be the healthiest, fastest, or coolest thing in town.

Many consumers have grown accustomed to the use of hyperbole in advertisements and are no longer impressed by products being hailed by their makers as the "best" or "greatest" thing ever.