“Literally” means “Figuratively?” Shut the Front Door!

Okay this was not my previously scheduled post. But, the English major in me is literally cringing at the article I just read on Blogher. If you want to see the article check it out here: http://www.blogher.com/literally-now-literally-means-figuratively-are-you-literally-ok-it.

For those who don’t choose to read the article, here is the premise. Google has just added a new definition to the word literally. The second definition is: “used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.” I am not lying, see for yourself:


Now there are so many reasons why this new definition bothers me. First and foremost, you cannot use the word when defining said word! It just isn’t proper and makes absolutely no sense. That would be like trying to describe a person your friend has never met to said friend and the interaction going like this.

Me: “Have you ever met Sally?”

Friend: “No, what does she look like”

Me: “Well she looks like…Sally.”

Super helpful, and super informative….not! This is not a proper definition google!

And the other reason this definition bothers me is it is just not accurate! Yes blogher explains contranyms and how there are other words that act the same way. However, has the whole world forgotten sarcasm?!

I have never seen someone use the word literally, as figuratively and not be using it in a sarcastic manner. If we start changing all definition to match our sarcastic tones then sarcasm will no longer exist. I think this is language butchering at its finest.

So bloggers, is this just an English major pet peeve or does this bother others? I would love to hear from you!

15 thoughts on ““Literally” means “Figuratively?” Shut the Front Door!

  1. I literally am about to explode after this meal… Yes sarcasm could be sensed if you heard my tone. But common google! You guys are literally too far up your own @$$!!! I can’t wrap my head around how stupid it sounds. A definition that contradicts a definition of a word… Yup that’s as much as can take for today, gnight folks!

    • I mean contranyms are a thing…but this is not the case here. I am sorry but this whole thing is taking it a step to far in my eyes. Thanks for using sarcasm in your comment- we will save sarcasm one comment at a time!

  2. “I have never seen someone use the word literally, as figuratively and not be using it in a sarcastic manner.”

    You’re right. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word literally, literally.

    I’ve used to it exemplify a point, like WOW! In fact, I used that word in my post today.

    “It literally felt like was back in the 1950’s.”

    Great topic, girl!

    You always make me think!


    • I am glad I make you think! I try to pick topics that not everyone is writing about or if they are topics that are popular I try to take a different, sometimes even unpopular angle.

  3. I can’t even wrap my mind around that one! But I did read recently that ‘literally’ is rarely used correctly anymore. People just use it willy-nilly because they like the word. It’s bizarre to change a definition to match the WRONG way people use a word, but maybe like slang, words change meaning once enough people use it to mean something else.

  4. I don’t understand what they mean. It’s interesting that they did not provide an example for this alleged new meaning. “Literally” has one meaning. If you want to express emphasis, you can use such words as “very,” “extremely,” “absolutely,” etc. Don’t mangle the language just because you’re too lazy to use the dictionary.

  5. One of my biggest pet peeves is the incorrect use of literally – so now Google is saying that it’s ok to use it that way? Ugh! I am so with you – since when is Google in charge of defining words?

  6. I know. It’s like what’s the point of even having the word “literally” exist if using it doesn’t convey that you are being literal. On the other hand, I do love how Rob Lowe’s character on Parks and Rec always misuses it.

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