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In aesthetics, nimism is a particular kind of trope or symbol characterized by exaggeration. The term is derived from Latin (nimis), "too much" and (nimietas), excess. Unlike a hyperbole or paradox, it is not applied to linguistic or rhetorical phenomena only, but usually refers to other forms of disparity, e.g. disproportions in sculptures and paintings, or certain sorts of discrepancies in appearance or behaviour (in theatre plays, movies etc.). Thus nimism, by means of symbolic parallels or analogies, is meant to help the reader, viewer etc. to see the truth. A negative nimism hints at something bad (a weakness, vice, sin, crime etc.), the less frequently used positive nimism indicates something good (a virtue or something heroic).


  • King Duncan’s cloak, too wide for his murderous successor Macbeth. (Shakespeare's MacBeth)
  • The feet of the two haughty stepsisters, too big (and bloody) to fit Cinderella’s tiny shoe, hence an obvious evidence of their wrong claim. (Brothers Grimm's "Cinderella and The Little Glass Slipper" )
  • Elizabeth Bennet’s look at the nude male sculptures in Darcy’s art gallery, cast much too long to conceal her sexual awakening. (Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice)
  • The proverbial “Qui s’excuse s’accuse” ("He who excuses himself accuses himself") referring to an apology offered too early, i.e., untimely and not asked for, and thus revealing a bad conscience.

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