The misuse of the word “literally” has gotten out of hand. It’s everywhere. Even in the media and printed materials. Ever since I have had discussions about this with friends, we’ve all suddenly become attuned to it and have started noticing how rampant it is. It’s like when Roddy Piper got those sunglasses in “They Live!” and could suddenly see all the aliens or whatever they were. People say things like “It literally blew my mind!” Umm, no it didn’t. I know this from the fact that they were standing there telling me this.
Two recent observances that really stuck out to me were in video game related materials. In an ad for the Super Smash Brothers Brawl game it said “…literally anything can happen, and usually does!” Wow, that’s some serious technology they’ve developed there. So it’s totally possible and in fact likely that I could be playing the game and suddenly see Dennis De Young from Styx fly in on a half-dolphin, half-bagel creature with purple monkeys flying out his butt.
In a review of Assassin’s Creed on gamespot.com the reviewer mentioned how the game’s atmosphere was so great that it was “…literally a living, breathing world.” Again, I really had no idea this kind of technology existed! They should really let some top scientists study this stuff!
We have friends who use this word in what seems like every other sentence. It seems like they just use it for unnecessary emphasis or something like, “I was like, literally, just sitting there eating my dinner…” Really? I’m glad you specified because I thought you meant it figuratively. You know, that old colloquial saying, “eating my dinner” meaning that you were building a wooden effigy of the Bee Gees.

8 Responses

  1. andi says:

    It’s not nearly as irritating as saying “I could care less” when you mean ‘I COULDN’T care less’. Or saying ‘there are less something or others’ when you mean ‘there are fewer something or others’. Or misuse of the word ‘whom’. Or starting a sentence with the word ‘or’ for that matter. 🙂

  2. Min says:

    Oh, man I laughed so hard reading this entry.
    Misuse of literally cracks my ass up. A few months ago at my work, we were awaiting a new product. My boss emailed the guy in charge to ask when we could expect it. His response: “Coming soon. We are literally sitting on pins and needles here!”
    I couldn’t stop laughing, imagining everyone at the corporate office sitting on pins and needles. No one else in my office appreciated the ridiculousness. I don’t think they understand what “literally” is supposed to mean.

  3. Delle says:

    I know. I hadn’t noticed it until Jamie talked about it in her diary. Now I get the urge to bash people over the head for incorrect use.

  4. Simon says:

    Prior to this entry, the best one I heard was a football commentator describing a player as being “literally on fire”. “Oh dear!” I said. “I hope the paramedics got there on time.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am convinced that the best, most entertaining way to deal with this is to start using “figuratively” the way that these people use “literally.”
    “Oh man, I’ve been up for like, figuratively, a million hours straight!”
    “I figuratively can’t even talk right now.”
    “I can’t stand it when people misuse the word ‘literally.’ It figuratively makes me want to smash in their faces with a hammer.”

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dude, I’m not sure why my comments keep showing up as “Anonymous.” I am the Jupe!

  7. Simon says:

    Anonymous Jupe, I am going to do that from now on.

  1. July 11, 2014

    […] 10 years, 20 years and show myself my iPhone, my mind would be utterly blown (metaphorically, not literally). It is science fiction come to reality. There is a reason my lock screen is The Hitchhikers Guide […]

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