Annoying “Misuses” of Words, Featuring Literally

CBC Radio has a very good discussion with Ben Zimmer on the “misuse” of literally and other language peeves.

My two cents is that the figurative use of literally is not a “misuse” at all. For instance, take the opening line of James Joyce’s 1914 The Dead:

Lily, the caretaker’s daughter, was literally run off her feet.

If the usage is good enough for Joyce, it’s good enough for me.

Of course, as Zimmer says, there times when the figurative use of the word should be avoided. But that doesn’t mean that it is improper in all instances.

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