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Isn't "exaggerated" enough? Is it right to say "over-exaggerated"?

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7 Answers 7

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Over-exaggerate is certainly in current use. The OED has three citations from 1900, 1928 and 1984 supporting the sense of the act of exaggeration which is in or to excess, too much, too.

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    It certainly passes one significant "litmus test" for acceptability - Google Books has over 10,000 instances of 'overexaggerated' in written form that don't even include the hyphen. Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 21:30
  • It's like the author couldn't decide between "overstated" and "exaggerated". It may be in current use, but it doesn't cast the user's English skills in a good light. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 23:54
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Common Errors in English Usage covers this topic:

“Over-exaggerated” is a redundancy. If something is exaggerated, it’s already overstressed.

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  • It doesn't cover it very well. Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 19:01
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    I think they under-exaggerate the severity of the error.
    – Zelda
    Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 19:06
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    I think over-exaggerated is redundancy. I would avoid using it. Similarly, if something is unique, then it is unique, we don't call it very unique. Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 19:08
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    It was good enough for Toad: ‘Toad Hall,’ said the Toad proudly, ‘is an eligible self-contained gentleman's residence, very unique.’ Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 20:01
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    @MehperC.Palavuzlar: That definition of "unique" makes the word useless as everything is unique in that sense. When we say a car is "unique", we don't mean there is no other car exactly like it -- no two cars are exactly like. We mean it differs more from other cars than most cars do. Clearly this is subject to degrees based on how much it differs from those cars most similar to it. Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 3:35
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My initial thought is that over-exaggerated implies not only exaggerating, but exaggerating in a way that is excessive for the given context, or exaggerating to the point of absurdity. So, saying something like

The fish was 5 feet long!

I would consider exaggerating, but something like

the fish was a million feet long!

would be over-exaggerating.

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I would say "exaggerated" is enough. However, "over-exaggerated" could be used for the sake of a play on words.

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It's correct. It means to exaggerate in a way which is inappropriate(ly excessive) for the circumstances. Exaggeration is a technique used to create interest in a story, but it's over-use (obviously subjective - some would call x over-exaggeration, some wouldn't) is over-exaggeration.

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Over-Exaggeration doesn't make sense. Exaggeration implies that something is changed in a way to make it more interesting to someone listening to the story. I can see the point that others are making about it meaning more exaggerated, but the word exaggeration doesn't really end at any point. Let's use the "Fish" example... (Truth) a 30cm fish escaped from a pond (Exaggeration) A 2m long fish escaped from the pond (Exaggeration again) a 40cm fish escaped from the pond. No matter how much you change the variable, it will always be Exaggeration. Therefore, over-exaggeration doesn't make any sense.

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    Why do you say it doesn't make sense? Is it contradictory? Or does it not make sense because it is redundant? Does 'over-' work as emphasis?
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 19:55
  • I can't agree more. Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 16:33
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I think over exaggerated makes sense when you are comparing two things. Like the fish example,if someone said the fish was 5cm and the exaggeration was 2m then another person said it was 4000 yards long then that person is over exaggerating compared to the exaggeration before.

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