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Literally vs. Figuratively: I know you know the difference

May 7, 2011

sheldon cooperI was watching The Big Bang Theory last week, laughing like a hyena, as per usual, when Sheldon said something that made me crack up. Once my laughter had died out, it occurred to me that, while I am not a scientist, I am a word geek, which is why I probably enjoy the show so much. The word play and dialogue on that show are just so fucking clever. Here is what Sheldon Cooper said:

“It’s hard to say no to Yoohoo – it literally beckons.”

Finally, I heard the word literally utilized in its proper context. I mean, am I the only person on the planet who feels like I just heard nails scraping across a chalk board when someone says “OMG, it was so funny I literally died.”? No, bitch, you did not literally die. You figuratively died; just like I figuratively cracked up in the first sentence of this blog. Arghhhh.
I am not claiming to be some know-it-all wordsmith. I fumble and mispronounce things all of the time, especially after I have consumed the better half of a bottle of wine. Oh, and for the first twenty years of my life, I thought the word detrimental meant to have a strong effect, not harmful effect. Ouch. And while I am on the subject, my overuse of commas and penchant for fragmented sentences astounds me. Wait. Where was I going with this? Oh right. I love the Big Bang Theory and I hate people who use the word literally when they actually mean figuratively.

Anyhoo….

I guess I have stalled long enough. It is time for me to (literally) clean my entire apartment so I do not (figuratively) wither and die under the mother-in-law’s reproachful glare.

UPDATE: I just opened a magazine to find the Editor’s note with the following Headline: He, Literally, Never Changes.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2011 1:43 pm

    I’m with you. I once had a student write “It was literally Hell on Earth,” in an essay. Um. Really? I’d think that would have made the news…

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