What It Means When You Say “Literally”


Matthew Inman has created a pretty good explanation for all you grammar nazis out there.


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  1. You prepared all this just to gayroll at the end?

  2. Bubba and Joe Bob August 31, 2016

    Me and Joe Bob is literal in ever thing we writes and sez. We a couple of truthful dudes. For true!

  3. Lazier Than Thou September 1, 2016

    Actually, thanks to the bastardization of our language by the ignorant, if you check the definition of literally it doesn’t just mean literally anymore.
    Literally now literally means figuratively.

  4. Cats are literally greater than (>) humans.

  5. I get annoyed with the way people use “literally” to mean “figuratively” too. But your post implies that Mr Falwell is the only person in the history of the English language to do this. People of all political persuasions and religious beliefs do it.
    With a 30-second search I found this: “Hollywood actress Lily Tomlin has said her mother would literally have died if she had come out as gay while she was alive.” http://bit.ly/2bRzisa I’m guessing her mother probably would not have LITERALLY died. So huh, a homosexual activist used exactly the same meaning of “literally”.
    Taken figuratively, as it was obviously intended, the statement you quote is arguably completely true: Homosexual activists are bringing lawsuits against people who don’t want to bake a cake for their “weddings”. I’d call that an example of steamrolling all opposition.

  6. Except that OED changed it to mean both literal and not literal, look it up. It pains me that it’s true.

    • Then the OED is in error. Wouldn’t be the first time a dictionary got something wrong. Even though they ought to know better.

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