With a heart and a half

  With a heart and a half

In Brief

Figure of speech. On the street outside the newspaper offices, Myles Crawford turns down J. J. O'Molloy's request for a loan by pleading poverty: "Sorry, Jack. You must take the will for the deed. With a heart and a half if I could raise the wind anyhow." The rhetorical term for such exaggerations is hyperbole.

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Hyperbole (hye-PER-bo-lee, from Greek hyper- = over + bollein = to throw) is a figurative expression that overshoots the mark, often going beyond what is literally possible. The author of the Ad Herennium says that "Hyperbole is a manner of speech exaggerating the truth, whether for the sake of magnifying or minifying something. This is used independently, or with comparison." The second sentence refers to the fact that hyperbole often uses metaphor or other kinds of comparison to achieve its impressions of muchness or not-muchness. In the two examples illustrated here, the first ("I have a million things to do today") is used "independently," while the second ("on top of the world") employs a metaphorical comparison between location and state of mind.

Hyperbole is typically used for emphasis. Saying that something weighs a ton, or that someone is as old as the hills, or that I could eat a horse, or that you are a pea-brain, simply intensifies whatever quality is involved, but it does so far more effectively than saying "very." Myles Crawford's "a heart and a half" emphasizes how eager he would be to help if only he could. A similar hyperbolic expression from American political history suggests how false the protest probably is. When George McGovern's vice-presidential running mate Thomas Eagleton disclosed that he had a history of clinical depression, McGovern declared that he was "1,000% behind Tom Eagleton, and I have no intention of dropping him from the ticket." Eagleton was gone weeks later.

John Hunt 2023
Source: examples.yourdictionary.com.
Source: englishmedium.in.
Tim Robberts photograph, owned by Getty Images.
Source: www.thoughtco.com.