Literally

I hate the way people use the word “literally.” Just the other day I heard one of the kids in my youth group tell another kid that they “literally suck.” I was there so I know that they were, in fact, not literally sucking, but that’s beside the point. So, to prove my usage of the word correct and provide you with a well informed post, I read what dictionary.com had to say about the subject, and I have to say that I was a little disappointed. Check it out for yourself.

lit-er-al-ly [ lit-er-uh-lee ]
–adverb

1. in the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally?
2. in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.
3. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.
4. in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually.

Since the early 20th century, literally has been widely used as an intensifier meaning “in effect, virtually,” a sense that contradicts the earlier meaning “actually, without exaggeration”: The senator was literally buried alive in the Iowa primaries. The parties were literally trading horses in an effort to reach a compromise. The use is often criticized; nevertheless, it appears in all but the most carefully edited writing. Although this use of literally irritates some, it probably neither distorts nor enhances the intended meaning of the sentences in which it occurs. The same might often be said of the use of literally in its earlier sense “actually”: The garrison was literally wiped out: no one survived.

Taken from www.dictionary.com

Now, I understand that language is a living, constantly changing, thing, but if “literally” doesn’t mean “literally” then what will? I do not think we should change the definitions of words based upon their misuse because where will that get us? I guess it gets me in the category of those who are irritated by that particular usage but who really cares if it is all opinion?

All of this causes me to pose this final question, on which side of the fence to you, literally, stand regarding the usage of “literally?”

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