Literally: adverb. In a literal manner or sense; exactly. Used to emphasize the truth and accuracy of a statement or description.

 

That is the definition of the word “literally” from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. That is what I’ve been led to believe is the true meaning of the word, and that is how I’ve used the word my entire life. However, there is also another definition now.

 

Literally: adverb. Used in an exaggerated way to emphasize a statement or description that is not literally true or possible.

 

Dude, seriously? They use the word correctly in the totally incorrect definition. How confusing is that. So if it’s “not literally true”, does that mean it’s not true, or that it’s actually kind of true? Doesn’t this defeat the whole purpose of the word “literally”? I don’t even know what I’m saying. My head hurts. This is literally like a literal Inception, literally.

 

Why can’t the people who make words just make up another word? It’s as if so many people were using it incorrectly that they just caved like lenient parents. “Ahhh fine, it can mean that too.”

 

Orrrrr, how about everyone just uses it correctly?

 

I can’t stand when people use the word “literally” in a nonliteral sense. It literally annoys me.

 

“Omg, I’m literally dying from that picture.”

 

Oh are you? Is the picture poisonous? Did it pull out a picture gun and shoot you? Is it one of those pesky hitman pictures? Wait, what? Those don’t exist? Hmm, guess that means you aren’t literally dying, are you?

 

“Those wings are spicy, my mouth is literally on fire. ”

 

What? Did the spicy wings pour gasoline into your mouth and then toss a match into it? Are you in the circus? Are you a dragon? Oh man, I better go get the fire extinguisher! Oh, what’s that you say? It isn’t actually on fire? You just said “literally” to add effect? Sounds a lot like being over-dramatic.

 

My personal favorite:

 

“I literally can’t even.”

 

You literally can’t even what? Use the word “literally” correctly? Finish a whole sentence? This “sentence” makes me literally confused.

 

So, in summary, the word “literally” either means the absolute truth, or the complete opposite of the absolute truth. You can literally just choose which definition you want. Maybe I’m the only one, but this just seems crazy to me. When I try to think about it, I literally can’t even.

 

140 thoughts on “Literally Literal

  1. Very relatable. Of course the real secret of literally lies in the fact that the word itself isn’t used to convey meaning but rather the inteligence of the speaker 😀

    I’m always sure to correct people. It’s how I keep my friend count bellow 2.5 and avoid commitments 😛

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Cool Post.

    Stand by to become more outraged as the latest ‘literary’ fad gains ground with those hell-bent on torturing our language and grammar…

    People have started using the word ‘legit’ in a similar fashion to ‘literally’.
    Example? (using your first sentence in the post) This is the Worst day of my life. Legit!

    Ughhhh.

    We both know this is not going to end well.

    love.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree using literally in a non-literal way is annoying. My personal peeve has to do with ‘Real’, whether it is as something is really really….(which i find really, really annoying – i heard you the first time!), it was unreal – oh, you mean fantasy or fictional or never actually happened? or those who don’t understand what the word surreal actually means but use it anyway because it sounds cool or they think it makes them sound hip. ( It just makes you sound dumb to those who know when it is appropriate to use surreal and when it is not – which admittedly is a pretty small number of English speaking natives). 🙂

        love.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Great article, made me laugh. I completely agree with you! People use it all the time completely wrong! It quite literally needs to stop! I feel like it’s become trendy to use ‘literally ” alll the time. Hopefully, like most trends, it will soon pass! Thanks for following my blog, btw, I really appreciated it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is great, and the discourse that follows is just as good. Thanks for the add and alerting me to this blog. I have a feeling this will soon become a favorite of mine. Now, do me a favor and write to Alanis and explain to her what irony is. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Enjoyed reading this-looking forward to more! I have to admit that I just used the l-word in a recent post. Now I need to go back and make sure I am not one of the folks I am laughing about!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Gawd . . . I can jump on the bandwagon with that one . . . and p’raps one or two other words used in ways quite contrary to their intended use . . . here’s a thought: we’ll just become modern day archaeological linguists tracking the real-time of drift of meaning and usage? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The stunt man was literally on fire or was he? I guess his special fireproof suit was on fire. But he’s writing a book about it and his literary agent was so literally excited about it that he fired him for being too emotional to see to the details of promotion. He knows the literal consequences of not paying attention to detail. It’s a hot topic for him. It’s cool to be hot.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 😂😂 I will cook up some more grammar posts for sure! Stay tuned! I should’ve included “my bad” that’s was literally my bad on that one! 🙃

      Like

  8. Ha ha. This literally makes me think of my girlfriend who irritates the hell out of me by over using the cursed damn word; and never in the correct literal sense which just makes it worse. Priceless!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I saw this satirical change in our holy book, The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, a couple of years ago and as a writer AND editor, I was literally flabbergasted! So what word really means “literally”? None, I guess. We live in a world of buffoons!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve literally never used ‘literally’ in my spoken ramblings (and probably never used it in my writing either) – and now I NEVER will.

    Oops, I literally used ‘literally’ correctly… or did I?

    Seriously, good point as ‘literally’ joins ‘awful’ in having its meaning reversed over time.

    Liked by 1 person

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