‘Literally’ No Longer To Be Taken Literally (The Guardian)

Dictionary English256Some dictionaries have updated their definitions of literally to include the meaning, “in effect or virtually.” Google defines literally as a word that “can be used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.”

Martha Gill, at The Guardian, ponders this linguistic shift: “Did we…just break the English language? Or did we…prove that the English language is a beautiful, organic creature that is forever slipping out of our control?”

Gill decides that the word has been rendered moot, and that one’s best course of action is to avoid the ambiguous ‘literally’ altogether. For in the end, the word has come to have yet another association, which is that when you use it you sound, literally, like an overly excitable teenager.


  1. John Isaacs says:

    I am literally…floored.

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