Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Absurdities: Literally

Absurdities is a recurring series in which I vent about things I find absurd. It could also be called annoyances.

Call me the grammar police, but please stop overusing (and incorrectly using) "literally." The definition of literally is "actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy." 

Unfortunately it is too often thrown around inaccurately. "I've told you that literally a thousand times..." Unless you actually told the person 1,000 times, which is doubtful, do not use literally. If you don't believe me, listen to Weird Al Yankovic in his genius song Word Crimes.

I am even more frustrated that it is becoming acceptable to use "literally" as emphasis and not actuality. I understand language and words change over time, but we are literally (pun intended) losing the English language. It's laziness. There are many other words that can be used if emphasis is needed. Doesn't the wanton use actually make it less meaningful?

My old English teacher Roscoe Lindsey (RIP) would figuratively roll over in his grave at how "literally" is literally becoming meaningless if you don't know if it is factual or fictional.


Brett Alan said...

Why don't kleptomaniacs understand metaphors?

Because they always take things literally.

Johngy said...

Excellent comment!

Unknown said...

One trick someone pulled on me, I remarked on how they didn't use literally correctly on a post, and they fired back that it is acceptable now to use it incorrectly. The trick is they said it by referencing some on-line dictionary. Later I traced the link, which didn't exist!

Johngy said...

That's part of the problem. Words and phrases become used so much they become acceptable. My late high school English teacher is grimacing in his grave.