Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.
No, I am not joking.
The definition of the word has been changed – or rather, amended – to reflect the fact that, in 2013, people are so poorly educated that, instead of telling them they are wrong, society has now held up its hands, thrown in the white towel, and shifted the academic goalposts to accommodate the people in the stupid corner. If you don’t recognise who these people are; they’re the ones with the pointy hats, eating the glue, and counting with their fingers. Admittedly, the incorrect use of the word ‘literally’ tends to largely be the domain of teenagers and those at least ten years my junior, but is youth a genuine excuse for such misappropriation? Have we given up on the future generation so completely that instead of showing them the error of their ways, we are rewarding their ignorance?
The worst part of the bastardisation of the word, is that now, if you hear someone saying: “I literally jumped out of my skin”, you can no longer reprimand them for speaking incorrectly, because now they’re right. Now, a person can literally jump out of their skin, even if their epidermis remains perfectly intact, and they do – in fact – only mean it metaphorically. Now it seems you can attach any figurative hyperbole to what you say and it will actually be correct. So the word ‘literally’ now means literally and also, the exact opposite of literally; ergo, the word ‘figuratively’ is pretty much unnecessary, because ‘literally’ has gobbled it up.
So now, your heart can literally stop; your head can literally explode; and you can literally die laughing. And you will still be alive afterwards to tell the tale.
I do however, still reserve the right to call you a moron if I hear you say any of these things.