I just looked up the word "hyperbolic" in the 3rd edition of "The New Oxford American Dictionary", and the second definition says "(of language) exaggerated; hyperbolical."

When I go to hyperbolical, it says that is the adjective form of hyperbole.

Which is the more correct term to use? I have heard hyperbolic a few times, but never hyperbolical.


'Hyperbolic' is definitely correct for the maths, geometry, and science. The terms examples are:

  • hyperbolic function
  • hyperbolic trajectory
  • hyperbolic equilibrium

'Hyperbolic' is also correct for exaggeration.

'Hyperbolical' is rarely used, you can only find that in dictionaries, all the spellcheckers mark it as a mistake.

This word is used in a form different from 'hyperbolic' only as an adverb, 'hyperbolically', which is the only adverbial form possible.

So, this form, 'hyperbolical' is not a mistake, it is just rare and 'deprecated'.


I have never encountered a natural instance of the adjective hyperbolical. But I can attest hyperbolic is preferred in geometry. I imaging hyperbolical is to hyperbole ad hyperbolic is to hyperbola


One of America's founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson used the term hyperbolical in a letter, he wrote to John Adams on October 28, 1813. In that letter he wrote of an acquaintance, that this individual had hyperbolical ideas. Surely by now you know that you can NEVER say never and be right!

  • 1
    The question was 'Which is the more correct term to use?' Though Jefferson was doubtless a paragon, he's now out of office. Modelling our English over-enthusiastically on that of Shakespeare or Elizabeth I nowadays would not be wise. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 1 '17 at 14:14
  • Our? I thought this was the world wide web. – David Oct 1 '17 at 16:36

"Hyperbolic" is mostly used in geometry, the other in the rest.

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