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Is it correct to use the expression "hundreds of times higher" when the difference is 3.08 - 3.85 times higher?

This is coming from Twitter, someone said that there was an increase of "hundreds of times higher" between numbers, however, the difference was actually between 55 (units) versus 20 - 25 (same unit).

To me, that's 3.08 - 3.85 (308% - 385%) higher. Shouldn't "hundreds of times higher" mean a bigger difference, such as 20,020 versus 40 (as an example). That really would be hundreds of times higher (500.5 times higher) than the number it is being compared to. Which is the correct usage of this phrase?

It seems the user is conflating percentage (%) with a factor (3.08 or 3.85 respectively). While the numbers are significantly larger, to me "hundreds of times higher" denotes a very much larger difference (by a factor of 100) than the actual difference is.

Which is it?

  • Yes, but people often exaggerate without thinking, or for effect. – Weather Vane Feb 19 at 18:32
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This is a literary device known as hyperbole, when a statement is exaggerated and not to be taken seriously.

Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

from Oxford Dictionaries

The poster is just using this effect to make the sentence look more impressive or eye-catching.

Anyway, using hundreds of.. isn't too much of a stretch considering the figure was in the 300s.

Hope this helps!

  • Yeah, hyperbole is the generalized form of SuperBowlLIII. – Hot Licks Feb 19 at 18:41
  • hahaha! ;) 'Comments must be at least 15 characters in length.' Argh! – Lordology Feb 19 at 18:45
  • But it is quite possible that the Twitterer was not trying to exaggerate, and instead was bad at math. 200% of 25 is 50, and so is 200% times 25. That is only 2 times as big, not 200 times as big. – AmI Feb 19 at 18:50
  • Indeed. If the OP could post a link to the thread, this would be of help. However, I am only answering with what I am given. – Lordology Feb 19 at 18:51
  • Or it could simply be a matter of bad math. – Hot Licks Feb 19 at 23:36

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