The changing meaning of “literally”



According to the dictionary, “literally” now also means “figuratively”

Thanks in part to the overuse of “literally,” Merriam-Webster says the word can now mean its exact opposite. Huh?


Dictionaries don’t define what words mean. People do. If enough people use a word in a different way, the meaning changes. There is no one authority on what words mean. I think some people get far to upset over things like this. Words change meanings all the time. It’s just a fact of life.

When someone says “I literally could eat a horse”, everyone knows what they mean. They know they wouldn’t be able to eat a horse and everyone else does too. Anyone with a complaint about this is simply not aware of how language works.

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