What Word Would You Use Instead Of "Literally"?

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OutsideView
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28 Apr 2021, 3:58 am

I was reading a discussion recently about if you should only use the word literally in the correct way or if it's OK to use it to add emphasis to figurative things. "I literally shopped 'til I dropped" could work either way but what word would you use to let people know you actually did collapse after shopping if "literally" isn't taken literally any more? I looked up some synonyms and "actually" or "genuinely" seem like good alternatives.


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28 Apr 2021, 4:01 am

"I've literally punched a boy classmate until he bled and cried"
That's what actually happened when I was at 5th grade.
I genuinely am violent and angry enough as a child to make it plausible.


As for metaphors? I could've cared less. :lol:

Sometimes it's funny if people thought I was joking about something that seem exaggerated when I actually did it.
Funnier, if one finds out I was being literal.


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28 Apr 2021, 4:49 am

OutsideView wrote:
I was reading a discussion recently about if you should only use the word literally in the correct way or if it's OK to use it to add emphasis to figurative things. "I literally shopped 'til I dropped" could work either way but what word would you use to let people know you actually did collapse after shopping if "literally" isn't taken literally any more? I looked up some synonyms and "actually" or "genuinely" seem like good alternatives.


I know, it gets frustrating that the word literally doesn't emphasise the literal meaning any more. It's seems like it's just used as a figure of speech.


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28 Apr 2021, 5:11 am

Leave it out.

The metaphor, if strong enough, will work on its own.

The metaphor, if too cliche, cannot be improved with the word literally.


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dragonsanddemons
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28 Apr 2021, 5:51 am

I do use "literally" for emphasis, but only when I literally mean "literally" :wink: It depends on the phrase as to what alternative, if any, I would use when "literally" would not be true. I might say "I nearly/ nearly literally shopped 'til I dropped," but if, say, I tripped and fell or dropped something I was holding at some point in the duration, I would say "I shopped 'til I dropped, literally," attempting to be humorous but still properly using the word "literally."


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28 Apr 2021, 7:59 am

As stated by various others, it's used as a term of emphasis.

It's not really "classy"----but it is an example of linguistics in action.

I would never use the term as a term of emphasis.

Instead of "literally," I would pick out some other term of emphasis----like "mad," "wicked," "way (cool)," etc.



Last edited by kraftiekortie on 28 Apr 2021, 8:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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28 Apr 2021, 8:05 am

Use the Hemingway method.

Omit modifiers (i.e., "literally", "practically", "virtually", et cetera) from your speech and writing.

The "Subject-Verb-Object" sentence structure is sufficient for most correspondence.


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28 Apr 2021, 5:13 pm

If you want to sound like a stupid illiterate then use the word "literally" figuratively.

Otherwise only use literally literally. And find some other way to emphasize your statement. Maybe use the word "practically", or "virtually". I practically shopped til I dropped!

Sometimes you can use both literally and figuritively in the same sentence if ... a cliche expression comes to life in real life.

If you eat a heavy meal, and then...a big burly dude threatened you with a knife, causing your flight or fight instinct to cause you to barf all over the place before fleeing the scene then you could say "I both literally and figuratively lost my lunch".



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28 Apr 2021, 5:21 pm

truly

honestly

I see no need to drop saying literally, if I mean "literally". People are so prone to exaggeration these days that most people think others are embellishing when they give factual information. If I said "I was so tired I collapsed", most people might default to think I'm exaggerating so I would add "literally" to state otherwise. I've been known to collapse, literally, so I don't mince my words.



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28 Apr 2021, 5:34 pm

Do I literally mean literally, or just figuratively?


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29 Apr 2021, 4:45 am

Ta for the replies folks.

funeralxempire wrote:
Do I literally mean literally, or just figuratively?

Or do I figuratively mean it's literally not figurative?

IsabellaLinton wrote:
truly
honestly

naturalplastic wrote:
If you want to sound like a stupid illiterate then use the word "literally" figuratively.
Otherwise only use literally literally. And find some other way to emphasize your statement. Maybe use the word "practically", or "virtually".

People have understood my question in two different ways it seams. I was trying to ask "If people don't generally take 'literally' to mean 'not figuratively' anymore, what other words could take its place?" rather than "If I don't use 'literally' for emphasis, what can I use?" It turns out 'literally' is a more tricky word to discuss than I anticipated!


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29 Apr 2021, 4:47 am

funeralxempire wrote:
Do I literally mean literally, or just figuratively?


I think your virtually correct in your literal interpretation, I mean it's literally on the ball.



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29 Apr 2021, 6:22 am

OutsideView wrote:
Ta for the replies folks.
funeralxempire wrote:
Do I literally mea
People have understood my question in two different ways it seams. I was trying to ask "If people don't generally take 'literally' to mean 'not figuratively' anymore, what other words could take its place?" rather than "If I don't use 'literally' for emphasis, what can I use?" It turns out 'literally' is a more tricky word to discuss than I anticipated!


I do not understand this post.

There is only one correct way to use "literally" -always was, and still is. There is no recent backlash against the word.

Lets take it from the top so we are all on same page, and know that we are all on the same page.

"Literally" means what the words mean at face value, and not as metaphor, nor as hyperbole.

If someone tells you that a common friend "died laughing" you can assume that they meant that figuratively. The person laughed hard and loud, but there is not going to be a funeral.

But if your friend was upset because your common friend died because...the common friend was captured by North Korean guards who tortured him by tickling him nonstop for 14 hours ...so he couldnt catch his breath...so he had cardiac arrest and actually died...then...your friend might say of this tragedy that "he literally died laughing".

And that would be a correct and acceptable usage of the word "literally". The unfortunate prisoner was the rare person who made the cliche expression come to life.

But if you use the expression "he literally died laughing" about any event in which the laughing person did NOT die then that is unacceptable. It WAS unacceptable in the past, and it continues to be unacceple in the present. The unacceptablity of that misuse of "literally" is NOT a new trend. It ALWAYS made you look like a dumbcluck, and it continues to make you look that way.

So the question is NOT "now that its unacceptable what do I use instead?". Since there is no "now". It was always unacceptable.

The question is "since I have just been made aware of what the word means I am now aware that I have been misusing the word for a long time. So what other word should I use instead?".

I mean...dont you agree that that is a better question to ask to get at what youre trying to learn?



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29 Apr 2021, 6:41 am

naturalplastic wrote:
I do not understand this post.

It ALWAYS made you look like a dumbcluck, and it continues to make you look that way.

So the question is NOT "now that its unacceptable what do I use instead?". Since there is no "now". It was always unacceptable.

The question is "since I have just been made aware of what the word means I am now aware that I have been misusing the word for a long time. So what other word should I use instead?".

I mean...dont you agree that that is a better question to ask to get at what youre trying to learn?

No you don't understand the post at all. It seems you have misunderstood what I'm trying to get at in your zeal to try to insult people.

To partially borrow IsabellaLinton's example, I didn't want to speak on the phone to the doctor again because last time I did, I literally collapsed. These days there are a lot of people who might take that as an exaggeration when I actually did end up with my face on the floor. I'm asking what word you would use to get the point across that something is indeed literal if other people stop using the word that way.

The question is "since I have just been made aware of what the thread is actually about I am now aware that I have been misunderstanding the point of it since the beginning. So why did I get het up about it?".


Edit to say I've no problem at all wih people misunderstanding what I write, I could just do without the condescension.


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cyberdad
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29 Apr 2021, 6:45 am

quite literally nobody understands anyone



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29 Apr 2021, 6:48 am

To replace "literally" being used the right way, I'd say "actually." Followed by "and I mean actually" if they look doubtful.

To replace "literally" being used the wrong way, I'd use "practically." IIRC, that's the word that was used for this kind of hyperbole before "literally" took over.


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