Posted by

There is a blight upon the lexicon of our time! Read on and I’ll literally tell you what I mean.

Listen, my daughter watches a TON of YouTube. Bad parenting? Probably. Germane to this blopic (blog+ topic)? Only concerning my exposure to what I shall term “secondhand lexico-hyperbolitis”.

This is a debilitating disorder of the speech center of the brain, literally. You may have this disorder if you’re compelled to preface lackluster occurrences with the word “literally”. For example, “the cup I use to scoop out dog food disappeared, I literally had to get another one.”

Another symptom is a lack of proper respect for the hierarchy of “super” adjectives. Submitted for your approval, internet – here’s how I would order superlative adjectives; I’ll use donuts as a reference

Glazed “pretty good”
Chocolate “good”
Maple “Really good”/“Great”
Blueberry cake “awesome”
Cinnamon roll “totally awesome”/ “awesome to the max”
Chocolate cake “Murica!”
Maple cake “transcendent”
Old fashioned “restaurant quality”
Chocolate old fashioned “epic”



Of course, the ranking of donuts is open for debate, but I think we can all get behind the classification system. I’d like to note that “epic” is not my choice to describe the very best. I have always liked “restaurant quality”.

No matter what your word for the apex of quality, the notion that something could be so sweet necessarily requires that one be selective when classifying stuff. In other words, if everything is “epic”, is anything truly “epic”?

Let me slow down, my mind is literally flooded with righteous indigtation (indignation + dictation). To be clear, this is a treatise against the hyperbolic terminology literally soiling the garden of agreeable discourse in America today. Even, the book that literally contains all the words (epic feat, no?) has recognized this egregious trend (LINK).

Is “literally” being used incorrectly? Well, yes and no – lists the following definitions/examples for “literally” –

  1. in the literal or strict sense: She failed to grasp the metaphor and interpreted the poem literally.

e.g. What does the word mean literally?

  1. in a literal manner; word for word:

e.g. to translate literally.

  1. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy:

e.g. The city was literally destroyed.

  1. in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually:

e.g. I literally died when she walked out on stage in that costume.

It is my understanding that literally is most effectively used when referring to a strange/very rare occurrence. Such as, “Trump literally made a good point”. Another is to show exaggeration. Example, “I literally shat myself when he did the bit about the unicorns with toilet wands for a horn.”

I’m seeing and hearing a lot definition #3 mixed with #4; i.e. prosaic occurrences described as if it started raining money.

Here is a test, dear reader, that you might find out if you suffer from this heinous malady. Which of the following statements can “literally” be most appropriately applied to (assume that the occurrence described happened exactly as it is…uhh, described) –

  1. The bacon was on the skillet so long it got burned
  2. That lion tore that gazelle’s throat out and ate it.
  3. Jimi Hendrix makes the guitar sing
  4. I barfed when I saw the new iPhone

Answer key:

  1. Not necessary
  2. Not necessary
  3. Appropriate to exaggerate Hendrix’s skill (Jimi Hendrix literally makes the guitar sing)
  4. Appropriate when thinking about an iPhone – new or old. (I literally barfed when I saw the new iPhone).

Scoring –

If you thought it ok to put “literally” on either of the first two, you have a mild case of lexico-hyperbolitis and must memorize and practice using very bland adjectives like – “kinda cool”, “it’s OK”, “Meh” and “not bad” to temper your sensationalist tendencies.

If you think they all could benefit from this most malevolent term, you are (literally) about to drown in a mire of embellishment, a hypoolbole if you will. Your only hope is total sensory deprivation and the prohibition of the use of all adjectives. For instance, let’s say Steven Seagal shows up at your door one morning with some hot flapjacks and says he wants to give you free ass-kicking lessons. Your first reaction might be “THAT’S AWESOME!” If you would purge yourself of lexico-hyperbolitis, your reaction would be pared down to “THAT’S!” or “THAT IS!” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

Seagal Pancakes

Ok, that’s what I think about the word “literally”, if I hear it again I will have a cowdog (literally).






  1. Just brilliant. I share your sentiments exactly. Up there with the abuse and bastardising of the otherwise melodious word ‘literally’ is, for me, the over use of the word ‘musings ‘. Uuhh! Even I had it on my blog and edited the post by cussing myself and the word. It’s too over used and abused to be witty and whimsical. Just because you call your blog the musings of blah de blah it doesn’t make it high brow or witty! It means you’ve just given a poncey title to your incomprehensible brain puke.
    And ‘bucket list’. Are millennials aware that it refers to the phrase ‘kick the bucket’? i.e what you want to do before you DIE . Not an ‘insane list of clichéd crap I want to do before next year!
    Well thank you for this brilliant post. 😊

    1. Two things – 1. I formally nominate “…a poncey title to your incomprehensible brain puke.” As the best statement of 2017, and
      2. I’m very glad you said that about “musings”. I think I’ve always felt that way about that icky word, but never conjured such savory verbiage to describe it. Also, I was sitting here…musing 😛 about starting another blog and, shamefully, “musings” came to my mind to include in the name – you’ve straightened me out though, danka!

      1. My pleasure! I don’t know what it is about that word. ..I used to like it now it hurts my cringey nerve endings.
        Why, thank you for the nomination- I await the day I’m presented with the award! Look forward to your new blog and pleased that you’ve duly rejected that goose pimple inducing word. All the best in all 😊

  2. This post was on point. I understand everything you wrote. Recently my brother used “literally” in a sentence where it was unnecessary and I asked him: “what does literally mean?” He said literally means literally. Honestly, literally is getting overused. In my opinion. Thank you for writing this.

    1. Have you been on the YouTube recently? It’s like a frickin virus! I can only assume that the frequent users thinks it makes them sound smarter or they have to preface a boring statement (far be it that a listener not be hanging on every word).

      The response to this post has me thinking – how does this sort of thing happen when so many detest its practice? Our maybe this is a call to action; when you hear someone wantonly utter that heinous…uhh, utterance, it is your responsibility to make them look stupid, like brave Marietta, by asking them WTF that word means.

      1. Yes indeed, I’ve been on Youtube recently. I was even on youtube just before I saw your post. But it baffles me why people use it. I’m only 18 and I don’t get it. I think it sounds dumb. I think the people that use it often either think it makes sound dumb or they think their listeners won’t understand what they mean.
        Another word that is overused and I’m guilty of is “like”. I think you get the point.

      2. That gets me to thinking…I give people guff for the overuse of “like” (e.g. “I’m like, so hungry!” “So are you hungry, or “like” hungry?) The way I see it, “literally” is like, literally, the new “like” 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s