Super-Hyperbolic Man: Hyperbole as an Ideological Discourse Strategy in Trump’s Speeches

  • Ali Haif AbbasEmail author


This article attempts to study the use of hyperboles in Trump’s political speeches. Trump built his presidential campaign on a racist stage based on anti-immigration (anti-Muslims and Mexicans), anti-Obama, and anti-Clinton foreign policy. By following McCarthy and Carter (J Pragmat 36:149–184, 2004) approach, the article aims to find out how Trump uses hyperbole to achieve persuasive political interests. The article also aims to demonstrate how hyperbole as an ideological strategy plays a crucial role in the positive representation of Trump and the American natives, and the negative representation of other immigrants, Clinton’s foreign policy, and Obama’s administration. In order to achieve the aims, the data consist of (19) selected speeches spoken by Trump during his 2015–2016 election campaign. The article adopts a mixed method of both, qualitative and quantitative analysis in order to obtain credible results and also to overcome the subjective nature of the qualitative analysis. The results show that Trump uses different types of hyperbolic expressions such as number, amount and quantity, time, adjectives and adverbs of size, degree, and intensity, metaphor, repetition, polysyndeton, and complex modifications to persuade people, influence their minds, distract them away from Clinton, win the presidency, and become the 45th president of the United States of America.


Hyperboles Overstatement Us-them discourse Trump Clinton Obama 



  1. 1.
    Baker, E. 1992. Human liberty and freedom of speech. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bhaya, R. 1985. Telling lies: Some literary and other violations of Grice’s maxim of quality. Nottingham Linguistic Circular 14: 53–71.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cano Mora, L. 2006. ‘How to make a mountain out of a molehill’. A corpus-based pragmatic and conversational analysis study of hyperbole in interaction. Valencia: University of Valencia Press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cano Mora, L. 2009. All or nothing: A semantic analysis of hyperbole. Revista de Lingüística y lenguas Aplicadas 4(1): 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Carston, R., and C. Wearing. 2015. Hyperbolic language and its relation to metaphor and irony. Journal of Pragmatics 79: 79–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Christodoulidou, M. 2011. Hyperbole in everyday conversation. In Proceedings of 9th international symposium on theoretical and applied linguistics, Thessaloniki, Greece, 143–152.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Clark, H. 1996. Using language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Claridge, C. 2011. Hyperbole in English. A corpus-based study of exaggeration. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cruse, A. 2006. A glossary of semantics and pragmatics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Dedaić, M. 2006. Political speeches and persuasive argumentation. Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics 9: 700–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    van Eemeren, F.H., and P. Houtlosser. 2002. Strategic maneuvering: Maintaining a delicate balance. In Dialectic and rhetoric: The warp and woof of argumentation analysis, ed. F.H. van Eemeren and P. Houtlosser, 119–130. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Fontanier, P. 1986. Les figures du discours. Paris: Flammarion.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gass, R., and J. Seiter. 2010. Persuasion, social influence, and compliance gaining, 4th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gibbs, R. 2000. Irony in talk among friends. Metaphor and Symbol 15(1–2): 5–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Hartland, N. 1993. System and repetition in legal discourse: A critical account of discourse analysis of the law. Australian Journal of Law and Society 9: 89–106.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ifantidou, E. 2001. Evidentials and relevance. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Jowett, G., and V. O’donnell. 2012. Propaganda and persuasion. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Krieger, H. 2017. Trumping international law? Implications of the 2016 US presidential election for the international legal order [Blog post]. Retrieved 10 April 2019 from
  19. 19.
    Lausberg, H. 1998. Handbook of literary rhetoric: A foundation for literary study. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Leech, G. 1969. A linguistic guide to English poetry. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Leiter, B. 2015. Marx, law, ideology, legal positivism. Virginia Law Review 101: 1179–1196.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    McCarthy, M., and R. Carter. 2004. There’s millions of them: Hyperbole in everyday conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 149–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mirzaei, A., Z. Eslami, and F. Safari. 2017. Exploring rhetorical-discursive practices of Rouhani’s presidential campaign and victory of his prudence and hope key: A discourse of persuasion. Russian Journal of Linguistics 21(1): 161–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    McQuarrie, E., and D. Mick. 1993. Reflections on classical rhetoric and the incidence of figures of speech in contemporary magazine advertisements. Advances in Consumer Research 20: 309–313.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Mutz, D., P. Sniderman, and R. Brody. 1996. Political persuasion and attitude change. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Reich, R. 2018. Trump’s assault on the rule of law [Blog post]. Retrieved 11 April 2019 from
  27. 27.
    Spitzbardt, H. 1963. Overstatement and understatement in British and American English. Philologica Pragensia 6: 277–286.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Van Dijk, T. 1991. Racism and the press. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Van Dijk, T. 2000. Ideology and discourse: A multidisciplinary introduction. Barcelona: Pompeu Fabra University.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Van Dijk, T. 2006. Politics, ideology, and discourse. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Scholar

Websites of Trump’s Speeches

  1. 31.
  2. 32.“Remarks Announcing Candidacy for President in New York City” June 16, 2015, 6557 words.
  3. 33. “Remarks at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC” March 21, 2016, 2353 words.
  4. 34. “Remarks on Foreign Policy at the National Press Club in Washington, DC” April 27, 2016, 3511 words.
  5. 35. “Remarks at Trump SoHo in New York City” June 22, 2016, 3364 words.
  6. 36. “Remarks in Virginia Beach, Virginia” July 11, 2016, 2528 words.
  7. 37. “Remarks Introducing Governor Mike Pence as the 2016 Republican Vice Presidential Nominee in New York City” July 16, 2016, 4177 words.
  8. 38. “Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio” July 21, 2016, 5113 words.
  9. 39. “Remarks at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin” August 5, 2016, 9486 words.
  10. 40. “Remarks to the Detroit Economic Club” August 8, 2016, 3646 words.
  11. 41. “Remarks at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio” August 15, 2016, 4906 words.
  12. 42. “Remarks at the Summit Sports and Ice Complex in Dimondale, Michigan” August 19, 2016, 4279 words.
  13. 43. “Remarks at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi” August 24, 2016, 4425 words.
  14. 44. “Remarks at the Union League of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania” September 7, 2016, 2377 words.
  15. 45. “Remarks at the Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy in Cleveland, Ohio” September 8, 2016, 2710 words.
  16. 46. “Remarks at the US Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina” September 12, 2016, 1525 words.
  17. 47. “Remarks to the Economic Club of New York at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City” September 15, 2016, 3057 words.
  18. 48. “Remarks at a Rally at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa” September 28, 2016, 2018 words.
  19. 49. “Remarks on Obamacare in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania” November 1, 2016, 2352 words.
  20. 50. “Remarks in New York City Accepting Election as the 45th President of the United States” November 9, 2016, 1590 words.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wasit UniversityWasitIraq

Personalised recommendations