We all know hyperbole is obvious and intentional exaggeration. But did you know it maps back to a Greek root meaning to throw? At the root level, hyperbole actually means “(that which) is thrown over.” The root has a few different spellings and shows up in lots of words. For example, ball, “that which is thrown”; parable, “a throwing beside, a juxtaposition”; ballerina, “one who throws her body”; and metabolism, “that which throws changes (at the body).”
Look Inside Language
Let’s look at diabolic. The root dia means “across”, as in diameter, “the measurement across.” And then there’s bol, the throw root! Something is being “thrown across.” But what, and to where? A quick check of the Online Etymology Dictionary delivers the story. Diabolic maps to Devil! To be diabolic is to be thrown or cast from heaven to hell…to be devilish. Bad stuff, but that’s the story and the roots led us to it. It’s fun to engage new words when you know what you’re doing. Roots are the keys that unlock meaning!