A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Hyperbole

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1033

View Scan · View Transcription · from page 1033

Hýperbole. n.s. [hyperbole, Fr. ὑπερβολὴ.] A figure in rhetorick by which any thing is increased or diminished beyond the exact truth: as, he runs faster than lightning. His possessions are fallen to dust. He was so gaunt, the case of a flagellet was a mansion for him. Shakesp.

            Terms unsquar'd,
Which, from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropt,
Would seem hyperboles.
Shakes. Troilus and Cressida.

Taffata phrases, silken terms precise,
Three pil'd hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical, these Summer flies,
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation.
Shakespeare.

They were above the hyperboles, that fond poetry bestows upon its admired objects. Glanv. Sceps. c. 1.

Hyperboles, so daring and so bold,
Disdaining bounds, and yet by rules control'd;
Above the clouds, but yet within our sight,
They mount with truth, and make a tow'ring flight.
Granv.

The common people understand raillery, or at least rhetorick, and will not take hyperboles in too literal a sense. Swift.

Sources: Glanvill, Joseph (53) · Granville, George (23) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2 (72) · Shakespeare's Love's Labours Lost (33) · Swift, Jonathan (306) · Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida (36)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Hyperbole." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: November 3, 2012. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=6281.


  1. The line in the definition attributed to Shakespeare (“He was so gaunt, the case of a flagellet was a mansion for him. Shakesp.”) is altered slightly from the actual line, found at the end of Act III of Henry IV, p. 2:

    “I saw it; and told John of Gaunt, he beat his own name: for you might have truss’d him, and all his apparel, into an eel-skin: the case of a treble hautboy was a mansion for him, a court: and now has he land and beeves.”

    A hautboy is an oboe; similarly, a flageolet (flagellet) is a woodwind instrument.

  2. Brandi on May 4th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

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