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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Literally, literally, literally...

Posted on Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Come on, I read a post a while back about people misusing this word, and now I realize just how bad it is. Without going to look up a formal definition, I can safely tell everyone here that when most people use the word "literally", they should instead just use "actually", "totally", "really" or "absolutely". One thing is for certain, when using the word 'literally', you need to use an idiomatic expression, like bled dry, kicked the bucket, jumped the gun, or in my example, took root.

If you are correct in your usage, it will imply that what is said AFTER the word "literally" happened literally and figuratively. So, when coffee spread throughout Africa via the civet cat, I can say: "The civet cat carried coffee cherries in its digestive tract from Central Africa to Ethiopia where the plant quite literally took root and to this day still thrives." You see how the "literally" works with this example? It is reinforcing the fact that the coffee seeds took root both figuratively and literally. Figuratively because when something "takes root", it establishes origins, and literally because the seeds become trees after growing roots that supply nutrients.

So let's be better at our language, or forever speak like you haven't finished school. —Literally

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