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Metaphor vs. Hyperbole: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Published on February 12, 2024
A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true but helps explain an idea, while hyperbole is an exaggerated statement or claim not meant to be taken literally.

Key Differences

A metaphor is a literary device that equates two unlike things to highlight a similarity, without using "like" or "as." Hyperbole, on the other hand, involves deliberate exaggeration for emphasis or effect, not intended to be taken literally.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024
Metaphors create imagery and convey complex ideas through symbolic meanings, such as "time is a thief." Hyperbole magnifies characteristics or actions to an extreme level, like "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024
The use of metaphor is subtle and relies on conceptual thinking, as in "the world's a stage." Hyperbole is more about dramatic effect and overstatement, as seen in expressions like "I've told you a million times."
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024
Metaphors often provide deeper, more layered meanings in a concise form, such as "her eyes were windows to her soul." Hyperboles are more straightforward, exaggerating a point for humor or intensity, for example, "his brain is the size of a pea."
Janet White
Feb 12, 2024
The effectiveness of a metaphor lies in its ability to create a new perspective, as in "love is a battlefield." Hyperbole's effectiveness, however, lies in its ability to create a strong impression or an intense emotional response, such as "this bag weighs a ton."
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Purpose

To convey a similarity between two different things
To exaggerate for emphasis or effect
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Usage

Equates objects/actions symbolically
Exaggerates characteristics/actions
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Effect

Creates imagery or symbolic meaning
Provides dramatic or comedic effect
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Literal Truth

Not meant to be taken literally, symbolic
Also not meant to be taken literally, exaggerative
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Example

"Life is a journey."
"I'm starving to death."
Harlon Moss
Feb 12, 2024
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Metaphor and Hyperbole Definitions

Metaphor

A device to create vivid imagery in writing or speech.
The classroom was a zoo.
Harlon Moss
Jan 25, 2024

Hyperbole

Exaggerated statements not meant to be taken literally.
I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.
Janet White
Jan 25, 2024

Metaphor

A rhetorical tool that provides deeper meaning to concepts.
Time is a thief.
Harlon Moss
Jan 25, 2024

Hyperbole

An overstatement to create a dramatic or humorous effect.
This book weighs a ton.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Metaphor

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison, as in "a sea of troubles" or "All the world's a stage" (Shakespeare).
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

Exaggeration used in writing or speech for emphasis.
I have a mountain of homework.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 25, 2024

Metaphor

One thing conceived as representing another; a symbol
"Hollywood has always been an irresistible, prefabricated metaphor for the crass, the materialistic, the shallow, and the craven" (Neal Gabler).
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

A rhetorical device used for emphasis or effect.
I've told you a million times.
Harlon Moss
Jan 25, 2024

Metaphor

The use of a word or phrase to refer to something other than its literal meaning, invoking an implicit similarity between the thing described and what is denoted by the word or phrase.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

A way of speaking that intensifies the actual situation.
He's running faster than the wind.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 25, 2024

Metaphor

A word or phrase used in such implied comparison.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or This book weighs a ton.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Metaphor

The use of an everyday object or concept to represent an underlying facet of the computer and thus aid users in performing tasks.
Desktop metaphor; wastebasket metaphor
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

Deliberate or unintentional overstatement, particularly extreme overstatement.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Metaphor

(intransitive) To use a metaphor.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

(countable) An instance or example of such overstatement.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Metaphor

(transitive) To describe by means of a metaphor.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

A hyperbola.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Metaphor

The transference of the relation between one set of objects to another set for the purpose of brief explanation; a compressed simile; e. g., the ship plows the sea.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

A figure of speech in which the expression is an evident exaggeration of the meaning intended to be conveyed, or by which things are represented as much greater or less, better or worse, than they really are; a statement exaggerated fancifully, through excitement, or for effect.
Our common forms of compliment are almost all of them extravagant hyperboles.
Somebody has said of the boldest figure in rhetoric, the hyperbole, that it lies without deceiving.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Metaphor

A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Hyperbole

Extravagant exaggeration
Sumera Saeed
Jan 24, 2024

Metaphor

A figure of speech that symbolically represents something else.
All the world's a stage.
Janet White
Jan 25, 2024

Metaphor

A direct comparison between two unrelated things.
Her voice is music to my ears.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 25, 2024

Metaphor

An expression that describes one thing as being another.
He has a heart of stone.
Janet White
Jan 25, 2024

FAQs

Are metaphors always obvious?

No, some metaphors are subtle and require interpretation.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Is hyperbole always exaggerated?

Yes, hyperbole is by definition an exaggeration.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

What makes a metaphor effective?

Its ability to create a vivid, imaginative connection between different things.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Can hyperbole be used for serious topics?

Yes, though typically it's used for emphasis or humor, it can highlight serious points.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Can metaphors be visual?

Yes, visual metaphors use images to convey a symbolic meaning.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Is hyperbole common in advertising?

Yes, it's often used in advertising for dramatic effect.
Harlon Moss
Feb 12, 2024

Can hyperbole be used in formal writing?

It can be, but should be used judiciously depending on the context.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Are metaphors used in everyday language?

Yes, metaphors are common in daily speech and writing.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Does hyperbole lose effectiveness with overuse?

Yes, overuse can make hyperbole seem less impactful or cliché.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Can metaphors change over time?

Yes, the meaning and relevance of metaphors can evolve.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Do metaphors have to make sense literally?

No, metaphors are not intended to be taken literally.
Harlon Moss
Feb 12, 2024

Is hyperbole a modern linguistic invention?

No, hyperbole has been used in language for centuries.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Are metaphors used in scientific writing?

Occasionally, to explain complex ideas in simpler terms.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

How is hyperbole different from lying?

Hyperbole is intentional exaggeration for effect, not meant to deceive.
Harlon Moss
Feb 12, 2024

Can a metaphor become a cliché?

Yes, overused metaphors can become clichés.
Aimie Carlson
Feb 12, 2024

Can hyperbole be negative?

Yes, it can exaggerate negative aspects for emphasis.
Harlon Moss
Feb 12, 2024

Do metaphors differ across cultures?

Yes, metaphors can vary and have different meanings in different cultures.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Are metaphors only used in language?

No, they can be used in visual arts, music, and other forms of expression.
Harlon Moss
Feb 12, 2024

How does hyperbole affect the tone of speech?

It can make the tone more dramatic, humorous, or intense.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 12, 2024

Can hyperbole be subtle?

Typically, hyperbole is overt, but it can be subtle depending on the context.
Janet White
Feb 12, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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