Pronunciation: \hī-ˈpər-bə-(ˌ)lē\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from Greek hyperbolē excess, hyperbole, hyperbola, from hyperballein to exceed, from hyper-ballein to throw
extravagant exaggeration (as “mile-high ice-cream cones”)

Hyperbole is what happens when people pile too many adjectives or crazy analogies onto an event, a situation, an item, or a person. That car is the fastest ever. That house is bigger than the moon. That pie was the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. We all do it, and we do it all the time. It’s a common part of our culture to use superlatives to proclaim the next thing as the best thing, and in fact, it can be argued that this very nature leads us to bigger and better inventions and innovations. When we talk big, we walk big.

But how often do we understate something’s worth? How often do we realize the full value of someone or something, and instead of elevating it even higher, we downplay it? Sure, we do that sometimes when downplaying serves our own purposes – you don’t want others to know the object or person true value because you covet them for your own goals. How often, though, do we undersell something simply because there are no words to fully express the depth of description required to put thought into language? How often do we perform hypobole?

DWW and I went to see “Avatar” tonight. I would like to tell you my thoughts about the movie, but the honest truth is that I don’t know how. I don’t have the vocabulary to express myself properly so that you can understand my feelings about the film. It bears mentioning that we saw it in IMAX 3-D, meaning we got the full monty experience. We got it all. Maybe the best way to tell you what I saw is by telling you what I didn’t see. I didn’t see a movie. I sat there for 2 hours and 45 minutes, and didn’t even notice the passage of time. I forgot that I was there with another person – at one point, DWW squeezed my hand, and I literally had a brief moment where I thought “Who the hell is TOUCHING ME RIGHT NOW?” Usually we’ll talk a it during movies, if only to say “That was cool” or “This is a good movie.” Tonight? We did not utter a single syllable to each other once the movie started. Not “Pass the popcorn”, not “Did you see that?” Nothing. Both of us were completely transfixed by what we were witnessing. I say that I didn’t see a movie because “Avatar” isn’t a movie. It’s an experience. And yet, even saying that much must be considered hypobole. I have not even begun to detail the grandeur and majesty of this film – and I can’t.  I do not want to ruin it for you who haven’t seen the movie yet (and really – why haven’t you, you slacker?). Avatar is, quite frankly, the best movie I have ever seen.

I know that there are many people who disagree with my impressions. Some people find the movie to be formulaic (it is), slow in the middle, lacking enough plot depth…and they’re all right. They’re right because these are their opinions and they are entitled to them. That’s why I made sure to say it’s the best I’VE ever seen, and not the best movie ever made. I loved it more than I loved any of the bacon I’ve eaten in 2010. And you KNOW that’s saying something, people.

Go see this movie. Now.

Better than bacon.