May 27 2010

Grammar Pet Peeve: Literally

by Barbie in Grammar, Pet Peeves

“Literally” is one of the most misused words in the English language. People often mistakenly use literally for emphasis and exaggeration—“I’m literally as hungry as a horse!”

“Literally” means “really” or “actually,” but people often confuse it with “figuratively,” which means “in an analogous or metaphorical sense.”

Fortunately, “literally” is typically misused in speech rather than writing, but it can often lead to unintentional hilarity. Check out Literally: A Web Blog for the best misuses of the word in print and on the web.