Hello! Have you been properly introduced to the word literally? Literallyis afraid that you’ve misunderstood it. If you call “Talk of the Nation” to inform the nation that your personal religious choices “literally” blew your mother out of the water, then you’d damn well better mean that she was on a tugboat and your submarine-dwelling pastor required of you to torpedo the vessel. Because, you see, that’s literal–which is to say “for reals.” In actuality, you likely mean proverbially, idiomatically, or metaphorically. These (and others!) are all fine, upstanding adverbs crafted and designed over the course of hundreds of years of linguistic evolution to specifically denote language meant (hey!) figuratively.

While literally does appreciate your intended patronage, it would hate to think that it’s being called upon unnecessarily, especially when there are other words out there just itching to be used for their purpose. The word literally is fair-minded like that. Not literally, of course; words don’t have minds.

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About John D. Moore

Writer, cartoonist, filmmaker, and student of Japanese language, literature, and cinema at the University of Utah.

3 responses »

  1. Logan says:

    It’s obviously expected that the first commentor leave a comment using absurdly hyperbolic language modified with the adverb literally, but I shall forgo this vulgar opportunity………Screw it.This post literally caused every particle in my body to explode outward at the speed of light.

  2. I think proverbially is an excellent choice when one wishes to express the sentiment generally meant by literally.

  3. Zijjo says:

    I literally took over the spot of the first post with this post!

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