It's Now OK To Use "Literally" Incorrectly, According to Google

08/14/2013 11:42 AM |


  • Image via Google

Well, no one can say they didn’t see this coming. Grammar enthusiasts have been (rightly) complaining about it and feeling smarter than the general population for a while now, and everyone else has been blissfully ignorant of how dumb it sounds to say they “literally died” last night. But, as with most important news events, a Tweet via Buzzfeed’s Twitter feed confirms it: using “literally” to describe completely non-literal (figurative, even) things is now A-OK.


At least, according to Google, which now includes in its range of acceptable definitions, “Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.” Here we are.

But really, does this change much? People who were Googling the definition of “literally” to begin with probably weren’t going to take a serious grammar lesson to heart, and language is fluid, even if that manifests itself in deeply stupid ways. The people who care about this will continue to care, and per usual, the real winners will be those who blindly keep doing what they’re doing, independent of everyone else’s quiet (or not-that-quiet) judgments. So let’s go back to complaining about short attention spans, or the death of print media, or the end of “network TV as we know it?” I’m sure we can find something.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

One Comment

  • There are a million words that are used for emphasis. We don’t need another.

    How are people supposed to express this idea now? “I non-figuratively ran into the wall”?
    It is pure ambiguity to allow its use both ways. If it can mean, “non-figuratively” and also be used for emphasis, than there is no way to know what the word means in any given context.
    “I literally walked on the moon”. “Wow, were you an astronaut”? “No, of course not, I was just using the word for emphasis.” How absurd, and figuratively stupid.