Program to eliminate misuse of the word figuratively destroys ‘literally’

A august editor of an august publishing company was the one who used “literally” most often. To a group, she said that her first novel “literally broke” her heart. Of course, we all made sure that to stay clear.

I don’t follow football so it was surprising that Jamie Redknapp has form in this particular area. He literally didn’t get a right foot, so he must have had to go inside to the left. This is strange and amazing.

Slate however has provided music for grammar snobs all over the world, and pointed us toward an innovative new browser plug-in. This replaces the “literally” with the “figuratively”, on web articles. (“That’s literally what it does, writes the extension developer; already, it has one five-star review. “This is figuratively, the greatest invention ever,” predicts a user.

Slate decided to give it a try. “A quick Google News Search for ‘literally’ turns up: 10 things you don’t have time for, the 2014 MTV Movie Awards are Figuratively on Fire. Momentum Is Figuratively Next Starting Pitcher at LSU.

However, it cannot spot literal usages of the word. So if you download the plug-in, you will see that the term “figuratively” can also be used to describe events. Slate says that the baseball actually was destroyed.

You know what, this could lead to a serious flaw in your invention. This makes it better. Literal abuse has gotten out of hand. The OED even includes an informal definition for literally, ” Used to emphasise” which is not literally true. The time has come for the metaphorical to suffer. We’ll start off by destroying that baseball. It’s a surreal and amusing image that rivals Redknapp’s one-legged footballer. Myself, however, am figuratively installing it as I write.