Friday, November 20, 2009


James Taranto takes John Kerry to task for misusing the word "literally."

First of all, remember when they kept telling us how smart Kerry was? The guy doesn't even know how to use the word "literally."

This is mean and completely unfair.

In political speech 'literally" means "sort of" or "not really, but close enough for government work." I am sure the Greeks had a term for this metaphoric use of words, but I don't know what it is and it's almost midnight so I really don't want to look it up.

Examples: "I was caught in a rain shower, I was literally wet from head to toe" means "I got some rain on me." "I ate so much I literally thought I was going to hurl" means "I ate a lot." Got it?

Other words that are used in this fashion are: "honestly," and "sincerely," "I swear!" all of which generally mean the speaker is lying.


Paul Parry said...

Nonsense! Literally means in "in a literal sense", the word for word meaning.
So many people use it incorrectly that some poor dictionaries have included the correct meaning which is one of a meaningless intensifier.
And it is terrible!

Paul Parry,
Literally Tsar

miriam said...

I agree that people use the word incorrectly. Their intention is to deceive.