Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
Heard Dee Dee Meyers, former press sec. to Clinton say that their headquarters was “literally” in a meltdown on election night..or “I was litlerally on pins and needles”..jeez…four syllable words such as this catch on among the under-educated, because thet feel it makes them sound knowledgeable, when in fact, it exposes their true ignorance. I feel like pulling my hair out when I hear it…literally…!
The (mis)use of “literally” as a simple intensifier is at least three hundred years old. Check out this post on Language Log: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/language … 2611.html. Ambrose Bierce was complaining about it 100 years ago. The Language Log post references an article in Slate which attempts, perhaps a little unconvincingly, to defend this very common usage.
Having said all that, I don’t like it much either. But you should be nicer to your poor hair. . .