In Defense of Hyperbole

Hyperbole lies, but not so as to intend to deceive by lying. . . . It is in common use, as much among the unlearned as among the learned; because there is in all men a natural propensity to magnify or extenuate what comes before them, and no one is contented with the exact truth. But such departure from the truth is pardoned, because we do not affirm what is false.
(Institutes of Oratory, A.D. 95)

How many of us have resorted to hyperbole to make a point? ‘This bag weighs a ton,’ or ‘I’m about to fall over dead’ are common expressions, and convey meaning in a concise and easy to understand fashion. No one takes these saying literally, and no one is offended by their frequent usage.

Always a Step Ahead of You

To pick another example – completely at random, mind you – we have CTU Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s recent assertion that Sophomore QB Kyle Parker is better than many starters in the NFL. Of course he wasn’t serious. Of course he was purposefully using a rhetorical device in make a point. We don’t take asinine statements such as these seriously, because we all recognize that the statement is false on its face.

Let me illustrate:

If I said that Dabo Swinney was an ignoramus, you might think I was asserting a truth. But if I am merely trying to make a point with rhetorical flair, I might be suggesting something less than his complete and utter buffoonery.

If I asserted that the entire history of Tiger football is defined by mediocrity, that their supposed tradition consists only of distant and ill-gotten victories won at the expense of institutional honesty and fair competition, then you will quickly forgive, because I might only be making a dramatic point.

Or if I suggested that the entire CTU football program is based on smoke and mirrors, that at its very core it is a grandiose and vapid lie, then you won’t be upset, because you will recognize that I may be speaking hyperbolically.

Or maybe, just maybe, Dabo was serious.

And maybe I am as well.

5 thoughts on “In Defense of Hyperbole

  1. “This site will be the driving force behind all news outlets concerning Gamecock athletics for decades to come ! ” YH…..and a favorite place of mine…no really! Gr8 stuff!

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