Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.


Posted by Michael Dickens on August 19, 2009

Literal: in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word. (

People seem to frequently misunderstand what “literally” means. Here are some rather humorous examples that I have actually heard people say.

“It literally blew my mind.”
Oh, so your mind actually exploded? Your head looks intact to me.

“The housing market in Holland is buoyant, literally.”
This quote is from a video about how some people in Holland have floating houses. While almost applicable, the use of “literally” here is still incorrect. The houses are buoyant, not the housing market.

“Join us at [company] when we will be slashing prices, literally.”
Just because you have a chainsaw doesn’t mean you’re actually literally slashing PRICES.

“Literally, I’ve been devouring [this idea].”
This needs no explanation. Like, wow.

“[Obama] is literally ripping apart the foundation of the America that we knew and grew up with.”
This one is just utterly ridiculous. How do you rip apart an entire country? (By the way, that was Sean Hannity who said that.)

“How do you then counter this irrational fear by some whites that they are literally losing their country?”
Interestingly enough, I heard this one and the previous one on the same episode of The Daily Show. But back on topic, this reminds me of a time that I lost my country. I had it right in my pocket, and the next thing I knew, it was gone. I found it the next day. It turns out I had been STANDING ON IT.

That’s all for now. In a few months, though, I may have another compilation; the grammatical hilarity never ends.

EDIT: Oh God . . . how could I? I accidentally . . . used a *colon* instead of a *semicolon* in my last sentence! Augh! /cry


8 Responses to “Literally”

  1. davis said

    even though I know the difference, I STILL make this mistake sometimes

  2. phynnboi said

    For all intensive purposes, the irony of your post begs the question: Are you just wanting to have your cake and eat it, too?


    • You win. Wow.

      • phynnboi said

        With that edit you made, I can’t tell if you got the joke. I wasn’t trying to pick on your grammar; I was trying to see if I could make your head explode by packing every misused word or phrase I could think of into a single sentence. 🙂

      • No, I definitely got that. It just so happens that I was re-reading my post and I noticed a small error. Those colons and semicolons get me a lot.

        Fortunately, though, I’ve never heard someone earnestly say “for all intensive purposes”.

      • phynnboi said

        Well, it can be hard to hear the distinction when people say the phrase, which I assume is why people pick up the incorrect version from the correct one. I’ve seen a couple of people earnestly write it, though.

        The one that really gets on my nerves is “different to” instead of “different from.”

  3. Bill said

    When I was growing up, my sister and I heard my mother say, “For all intensive purposes” all the time. It turns out she was saying, “For all intents and purposes” but we didn’t hear that for whatever reason. It wasn’t until we were much older that we realized what she was saying.

  4. […] } Yes, I know that deconstructing a Facebook quiz is literally shooting fish in a barrel. But I’m tired right now. And I can do whatever I want, because […]

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