Second most common (like if I'd count it) thing I hear is: "[agitated screeching] hyperboles are bad [agitated screeching]". This was also a hyperbole because I like irony.

Now, there's no real problem with characters using them when talking, because we do that too:

"I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."

"Keep fiddling with it and you'll be deader than Princess Diana."

"Well, it burns hotter than my hatred for humanity, but only a bit."

What seems to be the problem is twofold (one of them will be the topic for another day):

  • Sounds idiotic (especially if drawn out long)
  • Exaggerates information

How to "ensure" that the hyperbole's exaggeration of the information can be filtered by the reader?

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    What do you mean by "filtered by the reader"? Do you mean how to make it obvious that it's hyperbole and not actual horse-consumption? Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


Hyperbole will always be filtered by the reader, but this could mean anything up to and including not reading anything further from an author they find objectionable. A writer looking for a broader audience will apply filters to their writing so fewer people will find something they don't like, but there's no perfect answer and some readers - particularly of blogs and journalism - will look for hyperbolic writers. There's a niche for hyperbole, but it's a small niche.

It also depends on the level of hyperbole. Your first example won't be noticed by most readers, the third could work well if written in character and context, while the second is likely to have the majority of the audience shaking their heads. Even in character and context, hyperbole will lead to some readers stepping outside the story to wonder why the writer created a character like that, at which point the writing becomes less effective.

It's not the readers' job to filter hyperbole - it's something writers take into account when considering their audience.


It really helps if there's someone else who reacts to the statement the way the audience should. Other than that, you've got the other two down well: sounds idiotic and exaggerates the information in question.

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