Difference WikiGrammarWords

Difference Between Hyperbole and Idiom

Main Difference

The main difference between Hyperbole and Idiom is that Hyperbole is a figure of speech that conveys the meaning of deliberate and obvious exaggeration, whereas an Idiom is a group of words having a literal as well as symbolic sense, giving main focus on its figurative sense.

Hyperbole vs. Idiom

Hyperbole is defined as “a literary device that conveys the meaning of deliberate and obvious exaggeration.” On the other hand, an idiom is a literary device “having a literal as well as figurative meaning giving main focus on its figurative meaning.” Hyperbole mainly means exaggeration in anything, and that can be created by anyone, whereas the idiom is not necessarily used in the context of an exaggeration, and an idiom is such a device with figurative meaning that is already established and intended to be used as it is.

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Hyperbole is likely to be found in an idiom. On the contrary, an idiom can be having a hyperbole in the form of words or phrases. Hyperbole can be a word or phrase that only gives an exaggerated meaning regarding something, while an idiom is a phrase or sentence with a figurative meaning that is different from its literal meaning.

There is an explicit meaning in hyperbole; on the other side, idiom holds an implicit meaning. A non-native speaker does not find hyperbole challenging to understand; on the other hand, it is difficult for a non-native speaker to understand the underlying symbolic meaning of an idiom.

Comparison Chart

HyperboleIdiom
Hyperbole is a figure of speech that conveys the meaning of deliberate and obvious exaggeration.An idiom is a group of words having a literal as well as figurative meaning, giving the main focus on its symbolic meaning.
Creation
Can be created by anyoneEstablished through usage and passage of time
Relation with Each other
Can be used in an idiomContain a hyperbole
Refers To
Figurative meaning that is different from its literal meaningExaggerated meaning regarding something
Kind of Meaning
Explicit meaningImplicit meaning
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What is Hyperbole?

Hyperbole means an extreme deliberate exaggeration to assert the importance of a thing or to make a point. It is a standard literary device that I commonly used by writers to enhance their ideas. It is also used as a poetic device. It draws the attention of the reader and connects with the reader. Hyperbole is present in tales such as “the stories of Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed.” It also has shared use in advertising, but here it earned a negative connotation. Most of the time, hyperbole sounds sarcastic, or sometimes it is funny.

Hyperbole can be considered as an incorrect statement in its literal meaning, e.g., “I was so hungry that I could eat a horse.” No one can eat a horse, but it means that I was so hungry that I wanted to eat a lot. Hence the function of hyperbole is to emphasize, evoke certain emotions, and create strong impressions. It is a figure of speech that is commonly used to add effects with figurative meaning that is different from its literal meaning.

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Examples

  • “He was so hungry that he could eat a whole camel.” (He was starving)
  • “This table is as old as the pyramids.” (How old is the table)
  • “Seriously, I walked a million miles to get to your place.” (I covered a lot of distance to reach your place)
  • “My younger brother is as skinny as a toothpick.” (My brother is very lean)

What is Idiom?

An idiom is a group of words with a literal meaning as well as symbolic meaning but is mainly comprehended by its figurative level. Its literal meaning is entirely different from its symbolic meaning. The idiom is a fixed expression, and it is a unique feature of a language. Its use adds color to the language and makes a writing piece interesting. The idioms vary in cultures and countries. Another feature of the idiom is that it cannot be literally (word to word) translated into any other language.

The non-native speakers cannot understand the idioms easily because they can get the literal level. For example, the idiom “He kicked the bucket” conveys the meaning that the person (he) has died. But a non-native speaker will get this phrase as if a man kicked a bucket with his foot. However, the native speaker finds no difficulty in comprehending the idioms. Mainly the idioms have the meanings that are established over time through their use. It gained sense in colloquial language as well other than their symbolic meaning. That is why a native speaker is aware of them. He knows that “It is raining cats and dogs” does not mean that the dogs and cats are falling from the sky.

Examples

  • Break a leg (wishing a person good luck)
  • Spill the beans (tell a secret)
  • Give someone the cold shoulder (To ignore someone)
  • Get into hot water (to get into trouble)
  • Smell a rat (something is wrong)

Key Differences

  1. Hyperbole is a figure of speech applied to exaggerate or emphasize a thing. In contrast, an idiom is a group of words having figurative meaning more prominent than literal sense as well as a.
  2. Hyperbole is mainly used for exaggeration; on the flip side, an idiom is not necessarily used for exaggeration.
  3. Hyperbole is defined as “a literary device that conveys the meaning of deliberate and obvious exaggeration” in contrast, an idiom is a literary device “having a literal as well as figurative meaning giving main focus on its figurative meaning.”
  4. Hyperbole mainly means exaggeration in anything, and that can be created by anyone; on the other hand, an idiom is an already established statement and meant to be used as it is.
  5. It is difficult for a non-native speaker to understand the underlying symbolic meaning of an idiom. On the contrary, a non-native speaker can comprehend hyperbole.
  6. Hyperbole is likely to be found in an idiom; on the converse, the idiom can be having a hyperbole in the form of words or phrases.
  7. There is an explicit meaning in hyperbole; inversely, idiom holds an implicit meaning.

Conclusion

Hyperbole and Idiom are the two different literary devices that are different from one another. The difference between them is based on their meaning and usage.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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