Dave McElhinny: Make hyperbole great again
Thursday, June 6, 2019 | 1:25 PM
Hyperbole is derived from a Greek word meaning “excess.” It is used as extreme exaggeration to make a point. Just about every day, we either hear it or say it.
“I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.”
While rarely creative, these regurgitated phrases are blurted out thoughtlessly across our nation with such frequency that it is cheapening the language.
“This backpack weighs a ton” or “I’ve seen that movie a thousand times” are examples that are so old that they were “originally written in hieroglyphics.”
Now, I can get past the fact that hyperbole is, by definition, a lie that society has become accustomed to blindly accept. But what I cannot tolerate is the boring, mundane way Americans use it because we are too lazy to think up something clever to say.
It’s time we “Make Hyperbole Great Again.” After all, our commander-in-chief does it on a regular basis as one of the great exaggerators of all time, so it’s perfect to adjust his catchphrase for our purposes.
I would like to challenge everybody who enjoys a good hyperbole to get creative. No more trite, derivative enhancements to your story — be original.
For instance, instead of saying, “She’s as old as the hills,” perhaps you could say, “He’s so old his doctor is a dinocologist.”
Instead of remarking “She’s as skinny as a toothpick,” you could say, “She’s so skinny that her pants have only one belt loop.”
Instead of saying a term that has been used a trillion times like “He’s as blind as a bat,” you could say, “His glasses are so thick that when he looks at a map he can see people waving.”
After all, if the goal of the hyperbole is to add some flavor to a story or statement, then go ahead and truly make that statement your own.
Lame hyperbole is a learned affliction, a trap adults fall into. But kids use their imaginations. One of the greatest exercises in hyperbole is the time-tested, playground deliberation game known as “Your mama.”
“Your mama is so dumb, she went to the dentist to get Bluetooth” or “Your mama is so short, you can see her feet on her driver’s license photo,” or “Your mama is so old, she was a waitress at the Last Supper.”
Now that is hyperbole in its purest form.
I will accept nothing less than creative banter in my home. Just last week, I chastised my wife for lack of creativity for saying this tired phrase to the kids: “Daddy isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.” After hearing my complaint about that unoriginal hyperbole, she thought about it for a moment and then said, “Daddy has an IQ that is room temperature — Celsius, not Fahrenheit!”
I feel like she took it too far. I’m not speaking to her right now.