If you genuinely believe that you’re literally going to die from reading this website, put it down now! I would literally cry my eyes out if you died… or would I?
- I was literally sweating bullets over that grammar test.
- When she saw me with her husband, she was literally shooting darts at me.
- My dad literally fell apart laughing when he watched The Tonight Show.
The best way to know whether or not one should use literally in one’s writing is this: Could it really happen? When you make a statement with literally, you remove all doubt. This thing is actually going to happen. If she literally shoots darts at you when she sees you with her husband, duck! We should probably use literally only as frequently as we use the word unique.
The Latin root of literal — to the letter — brings with it the assumption of perfect and absolute truth. To do something literally means to distinguish it from a metaphor.