Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Frequently Misused and Misspelled Words and Phrases, part 89

Literally vs. Figuratively
Wrong: I was literally buried under paperwork yesterday.
Right: I was buried under paperwork yesterday.

Wrong: Having a baby literally ended her life.
Right: Having a baby ended her life, figuratively speaking.

Literally means actually. Therefore, unless a huge pile of papers actually toppled over and trapped you beneath it, don’t say literally. If that was what happened, you might be advised to wear a medical alert bracelet so the search-and-rescue team can find you, in case it ever happens againor change to a safer job.
If you’re not speaking literally, but using a figure of speech or metaphor, then say figuratively.

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