Should literally be used for emphasis usage guide sense 2 is common and not at all new but has been frequently criticized as an illogical misuse it is pure hyperbole intended to gain emphasis but it often appears in contexts where no additional emphasis is necessary. Since the early 19th century literally has been widely used as an intensifier meaning in effect virtually a sense that contradicts the earlier meaning actually without exaggeration the senator was literally buried alive in the iowa primaries the parties were literally trading horses in an effort to reach a compromise the use is often criticized nevertheless it appears in . Usage the use of literally as an intensifier is common esp in informal contexts in some cases it provides emphasis without adding to the meaning the house was literally only five minutes walk away often however its use results in absurdity the news was literally an eye opener to me it is therefore best avoided in formal contexts. If your mom complains that your room is overflowing with clothes she probably doesnt mean this literally your room might be messy and chaotic but your clothes arent actually piled so high that theyre flowing into the hallway. Literally definition 1 using the real or original meaning of a word or phrase 2 if you translate literally you translate each word in a text separately without looking at how the words are used together in a phrase or sentence 3 used to emphasize what you are saying learn more
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