I saw an ad for a residential and commercial area on a bus the other day. It said something like this, with the emphasis being mine.

Along the [whatever corridor], we have six barber shops, ten restaurants, five cafes, and two yacht brokers.

That got me curious. I have no doubts of the legitimacy of the claim, I certainly believe that there are two yacht brokers in the area, but unless I've greatly underestimated where I live, I don't imagine that information is actually meant to be useful. Rather, it's present as an example to express something similar to "we have everything here, we even have two yacht brokers!" The idea probably isn't that people will read through the list whilst yacht-shopping and decide to visit the area in search of a deal.

So, my question, what is this called? It reminds me of hyperbole, since it's using an "exaggeration" (of sorts, anyway--not really) to show a point, but am I right to think that a hyperbole is, by definition, not actually true? "I work a million hours every week" seems a lot more like a hyperbole than the more accurate "I work seventy hours every week," even though both are relatively big numbers.

This seems like a similar type of rhetoric, but I can't find anything that seems to resemble it.

  • 3
    Whatever the intent of the copy, if it's true, it's not an exaggeration, and therefore, not hyperbole. – brasshat Sep 21 '14 at 19:37
  • Isn't this just bragging/boasting? – Gob Ties Sep 21 '14 at 19:39
  • 5
    I guess it would just be regular bole. – snailplane Sep 21 '14 at 21:54
  • 1
    One level down from hyper would probably be super, so it's a superbole, which is also a word for an over-hyped event :D – StorymasterQ Sep 22 '14 at 0:37
  • 1
    I would call it a factoid, not in its original (according to Merriam-Webster) sense of "an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print," but in its later (also according to Merriam-Webster) sense of "a briefly stated but usu. trivial fact"—a definition to which I would add the phrase "that nonetheless captures or diverts attention owing to its novelty." – Sven Yargs Sep 22 '14 at 7:07

It's a great single-word-request, word for "something that would appear to be an exaggeration or even hyperbole but turns out to be quite true."

(My brother's always doing that. "We caught a fish THIS big" (unbelievably so) ... and then he pulls out a photo of it.)

It's (now) traditional with single-word-requests to give the official answer:

Unfortunately in this casem there is no such single word.

To describe this, I tend to use phrases like "surprisingly accurate" or, "surprisingly, it was no exaggeration" or "it turned out to be literally true, not an exaggeration."

There are also phrases like "strange but true" or "unbelievable but true."

Just BTW you are perhaps using hyperbole the wrong way. I feel hyperbole is "ridiculously impossible" exaggeration. So in your example it would be like if a kid said "Our neighbourhood is so rich there are seventeen million yacht brokers!" So, when you use "millions!" that's hyperbole. ("I ate millions of calories today!") I guess, you are more talking about exaggeration. ("There are like eight yacht brokers on my street dude!" ... so, maybe really there are one or two.)

Sorry there's no "single-word" for your "SWR"!

| improve this answer | |

I often refer to these sorts of things as hype.

hype: Extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion
(Source: Oxford Dictionaries, American English)

Hype is not necessarily hyperbole. It's more of a sales pitch designed to pique your interest with some incredible claim.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Should be: "It's more of a sales pitch designed to pique your interest with some incredible claim." – Tom Au Sep 22 '14 at 22:54
  • a very nice point! – Fattie Sep 23 '14 at 5:23
  • "hype" is short for "hyperpole" so this is outright wrong. Hype IS hyperbole. – zoltar Mar 1 '18 at 2:48
  • @zoltar Not according to the definition that I quoted. If one is allowed to say The hype is real, then it is not hyperbole. – jxh Mar 1 '18 at 7:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.