Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's literally raining cats and dogs out there - that's gotta hurt.

Ah, one of my favorite misused/overused words: literally. The word means in a literal sense or manner, or actually: The house literally burned to the ground.

But there are some dictionaries that are lenient, giving leeway to use the word for effect. Merriam Webster, for example, allows for the word to be used as in effect, or virtually: He will literally turn the world upside down to combat injustice. Webster's New World College Dictionary acknowledges this usage but adds, thank goodness, it "is objected to by some."

Count me as one of the "some." I'm a strict interpreter of the word.

But, the bottom line is it doesn't matter if you're on the strict side or the lenient side because I can't see any circumstance in which the word needs to be used at all.

So, if you're ever in doubt when to use literally, the lesson here is ... don't.

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