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In Thousands of radioactive boars are overrunning farmland in Fukushima, the word "unmitigated" is used, even though it isn't an unqualified disaster, as noted in the next sentence.

Nuclear catastrophe is always an unmitigated disaster. The only beneficiaries, albeit in a perverse fashion, are animals, which tend to flourish in areas humans evacuate.

Is it common for unmitigated to be used hyperbolically even when it isn't actually unmitigated, akin to "literally" being used even when the person is being figurative?

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    Yes - especially when talking about disasters. – Simon B Apr 14 '16 at 21:45
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    I've never heard it any other way -- it's always hyperbolic. – Hot Licks Apr 14 '16 at 21:46
  • The M-W definition of 'unmitigated' is given as 'absolute, total'. I think a nuclear catastrophe is probably one of the worst disasters, but even not actually total, is warranted an extreme word. – Mitch Apr 14 '16 at 22:12
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Yes, it is mainly used to underline a negative event:

Unmitigated

  • The adjective unmitigated describes something that is undiminished, unqualified, or absolute. If your new recipe for chocolate cupcakes is met by enthusiastic cheers, you can assume you have an unmitigated success on your hands.
  • Unmitigated comes from the Latin roots un-, meaning "not," and mitigare, meaning "made mild, soft, or gentle." Perhaps because of these origins, although unmitigated can be used positively, as in unmitigated success, but the word is often paired more negatively. You knew the wedding was going to be an unmitigated disaster when the bride and groom didn't bother to show up at all, leaving the guests to sit waiting for hours.

(vocabulary.com)

Unmitigated:

  • used to mean ‘complete’, usually when describing something bad: (synonym absolute)
    • The evening was an unmitigated disaster. You’re talking complete and unmitigated rubbish.

(OLD)

Unmitigated:

  • (prenominal) (intensifier) ⇒ an unmitigated disaster

(Collins Dictionary)

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