What Does Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated Mean?

The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated Meaning

Definition: I am obviously not really dead.

Origin of Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

This expression comes from the famous American author Samuel Clemens, whose pen name was Mark Twain. Despite being one of the most well known authors today, in the year 1897, Mark Twain was in debt. He had decided to travel to London in order to do a speaking tour, in order to earn more money and pay off his debts.

Somehow, a rumor began that he was sick, and the rumor grew until many people believed he had died. According to legend, a reporter found Mark Twain, and asked him what comment he had about the rumor that he was dead. As the story goes, Mark Twain replied,

  • Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

This story grew and persisted over the years, probably because people find it as humorous today as they did back then.

Interestingly, the famous quote is actually a misquote. Mark Twain actually wrote his response in a letter. Written records show that he really said,

  • The report of my death was an exaggeration.

People often quote this when someone was mistakenly thought to be dead.

Examples of Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

my death has been greatly exaggerated This example shows two women discussing what happened last night after they went out together.

Bella: There you are! You didn’t call me after you got home from the bar last night, and you didn’t answer my texts!

Hannah: I’m sorry! I lost my phone.

Bella: I thought you were dead!

Hannah: Well, reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

news of my death is greatly exaggerated The following example shows two college students in class with their professor, who is thirty minutes late.

Hanh: The professor hasn’t come yet, and we’ve waited half an hour. We should just go back home.

Zhongyi: I don’t want to get in trouble if he comes right after we leave. Maybe we should stay just a little longer.

Hanh: Okay, fine. I hope he didn’t die.

Professor: I’m here! Did you say you thought I’d died? Sorry to disappoint you, but reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

More Examples

The excerpt uses the Mark Twain story to say that a political movement is not as dead as people may think.

  • The Tea Party should plaster photos of Mark Twain all over their homes. “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” Twain said after two erroneous obituaries. –New York Daily News

The second example does the same thing, only this time to say that the budget for fire control is not completely gone.

  • To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” And so it goes with the Orange County Fire Authority in regard to the Register editorial “Burning through the budget” [Opinion, March 20]. –OC Register

Summary

The saying reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated is a famous quotation of Mark Twain, who many people believed to be dead, when in fact he was merely abroad.

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