A Lesson on the Definition of "Literally" for Joe Biden And Debbie Downer
Usage Discussion of LITERALLY
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.
Examples of LITERALLY
Many words can be used both literally and figuratively.
He took her comments literally.
He's a sailor who knows his ropes, literally and figuratively.
The term “Mardi Gras” literally means “Fat Tuesday” in French.
The story he told was basically true, even if it wasn't literally true.
… make the whole scene literally glow with the fires of his imagination. —Alfred Kazin, Harper's, December 1968
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