“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!