Literally Definition

Literally, adv, In a literal (i.e. 'avoiding exaggeration, metaphor, or embellishment') sense. Contrast figuratively, meaning, "based on or making use of figures of speech." Elementary-school teachers have been emphasizing this distinction for generations. Unfortunately for elementary-school teachers, using "literally" to tag a hyperbolic figure of speech makes the surface meaning of the sentence even more extreme, which is the point of hyperbole in the first place. Ironically enough, this rhetorical tendency to use "literally" even when it is not literally appropriate has been causing the word to lose its literal meaning.