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I found the expression, “I never in a million years thought I’d see this,” in the New York Times’ article (November 9) commenting on pedophiliac harassment scandals of Penn State under the headline, “Paterno is finished at Penn State, and President is out.”

The phrase appears in the following sentence:

Kathryn Simpson, 20, a junior studying graphic design, was weeping as she walked away from the university’s administration building, Old Main, with a friend. “This is devastating for us,” she said. “I never in a million years thought I’d see this.”

I’m not sure of whether “I never in a million years thought I’d see this,” is popular expression or not, but it reminds me of a universal pattern of exaggerated expressions that we imported from Chinese classics and turned them into colloquial metaphors, for examples, “白髪三千丈- an old man with 99,000 feet gray hair, describing a reclusive old man with long gray hair and beard,” “万石之涙 - shed 1,800,000 liters of tears, describing deep sorrow,” and “万里之長城 - the Great Wall of 40,000 km.”

I’m curious to know what kinds of popular, exaggerated formats of English expression you have other than “I never in a million years thought I’d see this.”

Would you give me just a few examples that I can use it tomorrow, because there would be hundreds or thousands?

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What are the numbers in the original, not the computed units? –  Mitch Nov 12 '11 at 14:15
    
@Mitch.According to Kojien-(広辞苑)Japanese Language Dictionary, in old Chinese measurements, 1丈(1 jo) is approximate 3-meter long. 1石 (1 koku) equals 180 litters. 1里 ( 1 ri) is 3.9273 kilo meters. I worked out the above numbers based on these units (all units read in Japanese pronunciation). –  Yoichi Oishi Nov 13 '11 at 6:53
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@Mitch.I forgot to place original numbers. They’re 3,000 jo (丈) of gray hair, 10,000 koku (石) of tears, and 10,000 ri (里) of the Great Wall. –  Yoichi Oishi Nov 13 '11 at 21:02
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1 Answer

The term is hyperbole, which may help with searching for examples.

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+1 this solves the problem! –  Terry Li Nov 12 '11 at 15:59
    
@Karl Knechtel. Many thanks. ‘Hyperbole’ was the exact word I was looking for. I was also able to add related terminologies - meiosis, auxesis, litotes and bathos to my vocabulary thanks to your great input. –  Yoichi Oishi Nov 13 '11 at 0:13
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