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These verbs mean to represent something as being larger or greater than it actually is: exaggerated the size of the fish I caught; inflated his own importance; magnifying her part in their success; overstated his income on the loan application.
ex•ag•ger•a•tion(ɪgˌzædʒ əˈreɪ ʃən)
all one’s geese are swans A proverbial expression said of one who is prone to overexaggeration and overestimation. Geese are rather unattractive, common birds in comparison to the rarer, more elegant swans; thus, to turn one’s geese to swans is, figuratively speaking, to color reality considerably. Use of this phrase, which is infrequently heard today, dates from at least the early 17th century.
The besetting temptation which leads local historians to turn geese into swans. (Saturday Review, July, 1884)
draw the longbow To exaggerate or overstate, to lay it on thick; to stretch the truth, to tell tall tales. The longbow, a weapon drawn by hand, was of central importance in the exploits of Robin Hood and his band. The farther back one stretched the bowstring, the farther the arrow would fly. It is easy to see how this literal stretching of the longbow came to mean a figurative stretching of the truth. This expression, in use since at least the latter part of the 17th century, appears in Lord Byron’s Don Juan (1824):
At speaking truth perhaps they are less clever,
But draw the long bow better now than ever.
fish story A tall tale, an exaggeration; an absurd or unbelievable account of one’s exploits. This colloquialism, in use since at least the early 19th century, derives from the propensity of many, if not all, fishermen to exaggerate the size of their catch. An important element in many fish stories is the angler’s lament, “You should have seen the one that got away.”
ham See OSTENTATIOUSNESS.
hyped-up Overblown, overly touted, inordinately promoted or publicized; artificially induced; bogus, contrived. The term’s origin stems from the use of a hypodermic injection to stimulate physiological response. In a 1950 syndicated column Billy Rose said of a movie:
No fireworks, no fake suspense, no hyped-up glamour.
The term has now given rise to the truncated form hype, used disparagingly both as noun and verb.
lay it on See FLATTERY.
make a mountain out of a molehill To make a to-do over a minor matter, to make a great fuss over a trifle. Although this particular expression did not appear until the late 16th century, the idea had been expressed centuries earlier by the Greek writer Lucian in his Ode to a Fly; it subsequently became the French proverb faire d’une mouche un éléphant ‘make an elephant of a fly.’
[This is] like making mountains out of molehills. (James Tait, Mind in Matter, 1892)
megillah See ANECDOTE.
shoot the bull See TALKATIVENESS.
snow job See MENDACITY.
song and dance A misleading, false, or exaggerated story designed to evoke sympathy or to otherwise evade an issue; a rigmarole; a snow job. Though the derivation of this expression is unclear, it probably alludes to the “song and dance” acts that introduced or filled in between the main attractions in a vaudeville show.
Labor leader Preble … was not impressed by the song and dance about [Stefan’s] mother and sister being persecuted and murdered. (Time, September 5, 1949)
spin a yarn To tell a story, especially a long, involved, exaggerated account of one’s exploits and adventures, both real and imagined; to tell a tall tale. Originally, spin a yarn was a nautical term that meant ‘to weave hemp into rope.’ Since this was a tedious, time-consuming task, sailors often traded tall tales and adventure stories to help pass the time. Thus, these stories came to be known as yarns, and their telling as spinning a yarn, by association.
Come, spin us a good yarn, father. (Frederick Marry at, Jacob Faithful, 1835)
talk through one’s hat To talk nonsense, to lie or exaggerate, to make farfetched or unsupported statements.
But when Mr. Wallace says that … he is talking through his hat. (The Chicago Daily News, December, 1944)
Use of this expression, whose origin as yet defies explanation, dates from the late 19th century.
talk through the back of one’s neck To use extravagant, flowery language, often sacrificing accuracy; to make unrealistic, illogical, or extraordinary statements.
“Don’t talk through yer neck,” snarled the convict. “Talk out straight, curse you!” (E. W. Hor-nung, Amateur Cracksman, 1899)
Through the back of one’s neck is here opposed to straight, which connotes directness, straightforwardness, and truthfulness.
Anybody who gets up in this House and talks about universal peace knows he is talking through the back of his neck. (Pall Mall Gazette, 1923)
|Noun||1.||exaggeration - extravagant exaggeration|
|2.||exaggeration - the act of making something more noticeable than usual; "the dance involved a deliberate exaggeration of his awkwardness"|
|3.||exaggeration - making to seem more important than it really is|
restraint, understatement, underplaying, meiosis, litotes
"An exaggeration is a truth that has lost its temper" [Kahlil Gibran Sand and Foam]