Thursday, 22 April 2010


Like most of us, language evolves. Some bits endure, others become anachronisms before fading to nothing. Sad but inevitable. I don’t particularly feel like some guardian of words – I’ve even stopped telling angry cricketers that they scored fewer runs this season, not less. Such pedantry draws at best a groan, at worst a left hook.

But when did people become so flippant with ‘literally’? When did it become a means of expressing emphasis?

Recently, I’ve heard:

I literally thought my head was going to explode. Possible, I suppose.

As politicians we must literally put our money where our mouth is. Not a bad idea actually.

You just missed her; she literally left a second ago. No she didn’t; I’ve been here for at least seven.

And my favourite: This match is literally on a knife edge.

Win a Book draw on Saturday.


Anna-Marie said...

Very interesting, figuratively speaking.

Alison said...

The best ones are when people use 'literally' incorrectly, use a cliche and then get it confused with something else - all in one sentence... I was in a meeting when someone said 'I literally wouldn't touch him with a very sharp stick!'


Paul said...

Let's see if this link works:

TOM J VOWLER said...

Ha. Some good ones there.

Niamh B said...

I know someone who has a very endearing habit of saying touchée when they make a good point in an argument.