Literally, you’re killing me…

This misuse of “literally” is such a thorn in my side, too.

Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” expresses my sentiment well:

And I thought that you’d gotten it through your skull
‘Bout what’s figurative and what’s literal
Oh, but just now (just now) you said (you said)
You “literally couldn’t get out of bed” (what)
That really makes me wanna literally
Smack a crowbar upside your stupid head

Meg Sorick, Author/Artist

A brief complaint about ‘literally’.

The word ‘literally’ is meant to emphasize the truth and accuracy of a statement or description or to express exact equivalence with the meaning of each individual word given.

In the first case, you might say, “The house was literally shaken from its foundation during the earthquake.” This is meant to convey the idea that the house is no longer attached to the foundation on which it was built. Really. For real. Not exaggerating.

In the second case —expressing equivalence— you might say, “tempus fugit literally means time flies.” It is a word-for-word translation of the Latin phrase.

But you didn’t ‘literally’ die when Taylor Swift liked your Instagram post.

How ironic that a term designed to emphasize a statement has transformed into just the opposite. It has, in fact, evolved to mean ‘figuratively’ in most cases! The misuse and overuse of ‘literally’ has at…

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Author: Cynthia "Cyndi" Hilston

Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay at home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.  

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