Hyperbole is a formal word for what is more usually called exaggeration. "I've told you a thousand times", an exasperated parent may say. It is unlikely to be literally true. Therefore it is figurative language: it is a Figure of Speech. "I've told you tons of times" is doubly figurative: it is a hyperbole and a metaphor.
Hyperbole is a transliteration of the Greek word ὑπερβολή (huperbolē, 'throwing beyond others', 'overshooting', 'excess', and 'hyperbole'). It is pronounced with four syllables, and the stess falls on the second syllable: hy-PER-bul-ee.
- This pattern of shifting stress in words that look identical but belong to two separate word classes is quite common in English. Quirk (1985) (Appendix I.56 B) remarks: "When verbs of two syllables are converted into nouns, the stress is sometimes shifted from the second to the first syllable. The first syllable, typically a Latin prefix, often has a reduced vowel /ə/ in the verb but a full vowel in the noun:
- There follows a list of some 57 "words having end-stress as verbs but initial stress as nouns in Br[itish] E[nglish]." Note that "in Am[erican] E[nglish], many have initial stress as verbs also". Quirk's list is the foundation of AWE's category:shift of stress. Additions have been made from, amongst others, Fowler, 1926-1996.