Do you hate ‘literally’ being used as synonym for ‘figuratively’?

My favourite misuse of “literally” came from an august editor at an august publishing house. A debut novel, she declared to a group of journalists, had “literally broken her heart”. We all, of course, then made sure to steer well clear.

Not being a football follower, I didn’t know that Jamie Redknapp had form in this area, however, and I’m rather impressed. I think “he had to cut back inside on to his left, because he literally hasn’t got a right foot” is brilliantly surreal.

Anyway, Slate has brought music to the ears of grammar sticklers everywhere, pointing us towards an ingenious new browser plug-in which replaces the word “literally” with “figuratively” on articles across the web. (“That’s literally all it does,” writes the developer on the extension’s site; it already has one, five-star review: “This is figuratively the best invention of all time,” says a user, predictably enough.)

The linguistic abuse of literally has got out of control – even the OED now includes an informal definition of literally as “used for emphasis while not being literally true”.

If you enjoyed this little snippet then read the rest of the article here

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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