Literally … figuratively

Pedantic hat on, I guess, but I seem to notice that often when people use the word “literally” they mean “figuratively”. It’s just lazy writing (or speaking).

“The car literally took off like a rocket!” No, it figuratively took off like a rocket. Even the word “like” is a clue there – that means it’s a simile.

“The opening band literally blew the main act off the stage.” What? You mean after they were done with their set they came back with some of those big Hollywood fans and made a little windstorm? I guess it’s really a metaphor – the opening act was so good that the main act struggled to hold the audiences attention. It’s an okay metaphor, but don’t tell me that it’s literal. If you need to emphasise it, use a better metaphor.

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One thought on “Literally … figuratively

  1. Jodi MacArthur

    You make a good point, Sean. Now I feel like a dumb a$$. I do this all the time. Just goes to show that it’s probably a good thing to THINK (figuratively) before one speaks. 😉

    Reply

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