ex·​ag·​ger·​ate ig-ˈza-jə-ˌrāt How to pronounce exaggerate (audio)
exaggerated; exaggerating

transitive verb

: to enlarge beyond bounds or the truth : overstate
a friend exaggerates a man's virtuesJoseph Addison
: to enlarge or increase especially beyond the normal : overemphasize

intransitive verb

: to make an overstatement
ig-ˈza-jə-ˌrā-tiv How to pronounce exaggerate (audio)
exaggerator noun
exaggeratory adjective

Example Sentences

The book exaggerates the difficulties he faced in starting his career. It's impossible to exaggerate the importance of this discovery. He tends to exaggerate when talking about his accomplishments. He exaggerated his movements so we could see them more clearly.
Recent Examples on the Web Vonblum said the impact of SB 10 on single-family areas is being exaggerated, contending that only a small number of property owners will use the new opportunity. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 May 2023 Because executive compensation draws heavily on stock awards, CAP will minimize CEO pay in a down market and exaggerate CEO pay in an up market. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 18 Apr. 2023 Stanley’s statement was amplified — and in some cases exaggerated — by the usual anti-trans suspects and across right-wing media. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 5 May 2023 Like Bolton, Middleton points to Lagerfeld’s propensity to fib, exaggerate and reinvent himself. Rachel Tashjian, Washington Post, 1 May 2023 However, analysts have poured doubt on North Korea’s claims, noting that North Korea has previously exaggerated its capabilities and deployment time lines. Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN, 7 Apr. 2023 Eckstrom has said the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report exaggerated the state’s cash balances for a decade by double counting the money sent to colleges and universities. James Pollard, Anchorage Daily News, 24 Mar. 2023 In 2019 a high-school principal in New York State was discovered to have created a fraudulent system of grading to exaggerate his school’s achievements. Philip K. Howard, National Review, 2 Mar. 2023 As the job market for lawyers slumped, other law schools were sued by at least 15 of their own graduates for exaggerating placement rates. Jon Marcus, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exaggerate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin exaggerātus, past participle of exaggerāre "to heap up, construct by piling up, increase in significance," from ex- ex- entry 1 + aggerāre "to heap up over, form into a heap," verbal derivative of agger "rubble, earthwork, rampart, dam," noun derivative of aggerere "to bring, carry (to or up), push close up (against)," from ag- ag- + gerere "to carry, bring" — more at jest entry 1

First Known Use

1613, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of exaggerate was in 1613

Dictionary Entries Near exaggerate

Cite this Entry

“Exaggerate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exaggerate. Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


ex·​ag·​ger·​ate ig-ˈzaj-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce exaggerate (audio)
exaggerated; exaggerating
: to enlarge a fact or statement beyond what is actual or true
exaggeration noun
exaggerator noun

from Latin exaggeratus "exaggerate," from exaggerare, literally, "to heap up"

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