Monday, December 10, 2007

Litterally a Million Times Worse Than Eating Babies

I find myself frequently irritated by misuses of words or other errors of language. I plan to share a few of them here of this blog. It is my fervent hope that you will be just as annoyed as I.

Perhaps the most common of these errors is the use of the word "literally" followed (or preceded) by an exaggeration. Here are a couple of examples:
The running back literally flew down the field.

I tell you that refrigerator we moved must have weighed a million pounds, literally.
This error makes my blood boil.* Unless the running back stopped in mid-play to board an aircraft and the fridge was loaded with neutronium, these statements just aren't true. If you use "literally" in your sentence, the rest of that sentence must be your best estimate of the actual facts under discussion.

* Note how I didn't preface my hyperbole with "literally." See, it's not that difficult.


  1. Two words: "epicenter" and "penultimate." (I know; sentence fragment.) Greco-latinate prefixes aren't always harmelss intensifiers that make their users sound smarter, sometimes, they alter the meanings of the root words. So, "Seattle was the penultimate epicenter of the fancy coffee movement in the US," would be a correct sentence if the second-to-last center of the fancy coffee movement in the US was underneath Seattle.

  2. Argh! You have precisely guessed the next two entries in this series. Seriously, I already started the posts to remind me to write them when I had time. Curse you!

  3. Oops. Sorry. I'm literally the worst blog idea thief ever.