Next time I hear someone say “His performance like literally blew me away”. . . . or. . . . “I was so embarrassed, I literally died,” I’m going to puke my guts out — figuratively speaking.
I am sick to death (NOT literally), of the misappropriation of this word, which literally means ‘actually’.
So no, you didn’t actually die when you made a complete tit of yourself.
I know we can all cite examples from Dickens or Joyce: “A thrill went through the packed court, literally electrifying everybody”. But in this example, Joyce is using the word to mean: ‘in effect’ or ‘virtually’, which is the alternative and sometimes controversial meaning.
(My take is that if you are Joyce or Dickens, the English language is perfectly safe in your hands and any use of the word ‘literally’ is acceptable.)
But when it’s used to shovel on the intensity as a lazy alternative to ‘trust-me-I’m-not-shitting-you’, it becomes pure overkill.
I get it. “I’ve seen that show like literally a thousand times,” has way more oomph than “Yeah, I’ve seen that show before.”
And I know that literally all modern dictionaries now define it as an acceptable form of expressing emphasis or strong feelings.
But the redundant misuse of this poor, overworked, dog-eared word has to stop.
Or I will literally explode.