This literally drives me crazy:

When folks mis-use the word ‘literally’.

Yesterday, a co-worker was telling me a story, in which he stated the following: “I was waiting on hold literally forever.”

I wanted to choke him.


Oh, just stop. Definition 2.

I often have the same feeling about prescriptivists.

Interesting, Paintcharge; I did not know this.

However (from the definition):

I’ll maintain my annoyance based on this info. :slight_smile:

I literally want to choke people that use the phrase “begs the question” incorrectly.

How is it used incorrectly?

I’m learning stuff here.

From an article in Slate:

It’s not. The common modern usage is “brings up the question,” which is different from the original meaning, which annoys prescriptivists.

A pirate grammarian walks into a bar with a wheel protruding from his pants

The bartender says “hey pirate grammarian, did you realize that there appears to be a circular piece of wood emerging from your pantaloons?”

And the pirate grammarian said “Arrrrrrrr, it’s literally steering me testicles!”

My pet peeve now is the use of “totally” as a modifier, particularly as in phrases like “He totally went to Jared’s”. How does one “partially” do something?

I’ve been bothered by the useage “try and” do x. It’s try to. If you’re going to “and” do it anyway, why bother with the try?

I agree with the OP. We have perfectly good words that serve as antonyms to one another–“literally” and “figuratively.” There is no need to move the definition for the second into an alternative meaning for the first.

I’m not a complete prescriptivist, but I do think there is value in being able to declare that someone has used a word incorrectly.

This is a lost cause . . . I just accept the fact that it’s changed meanings.

My pet peeve is the incorrect usage of less vs. fewer: “It has less calories!,” “10 items or less.” I literally (yes, literally, dammit) cringe when I hear it misused. But I recognize this as personal problem, like not liking cottage cheese or the color red.

I’m absolutely with you on this. In most cases I don’t care if a word’s meaning shifts as time passes. And I actively enjoy the the sarcastic idiom, “I could care less.”

But when an extremely useful word or expression is ruined by misuse it bothers me.

It is very hard to find a succinct replacement for “literally.” You almost have to write out, “…I am not using metaphor or simile, but rather describing the events exactly as they happened.”

Here’s recent example that left me smiling in despair:
The JawHorse is sold through infomercials. It’s a three-legged metal sawhorse equipped with a foot operated clamp. At one point in the presentation the narrator exclaims: The Jawhorse literally gives you a second set of hands!

That might be worth $139 plus S&H.
(The “literally gives you” line isn’t used in the YouTube link above, BTW.)


My husband and I are on the same crusade. It’s funny when we’re sitting and watching tv together and something comes on mis-using one of the two, and we both say the proper one out loud at the same time.

My current all-out-of-proportion peeve is the mis-use of quotation marks for emphasis. “Today only - “Steak” on sale!” So, it’s not actually steak; what is it then? Formed meat patties?

“usage: Since some people take sense 2 to be the opposite of sense 1, it has been frequently criticized as a misuse. Instead, the use is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis, but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary.”

Yet interstingly enough, if you look up “hyperbole”:

–noun, Rhetoric.
1.obvious and intentional exaggeration. extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Hey, I didn’t say whether it was right or wrong, just that, for whatever reason, it drives me up the wall (not literally). Prescriptivist, I’m not.

I “hope” you don’t spend all day at this “site”:

The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks

So, oddly enough, this statement is correct:

Literally doesn’t mean literally.