This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Literally - a rant.

Oh, all right, this isn't a rant at all really. I think it's terrific when people use literally incorrectly. It's one of the joys of life.

It does rile some people, though (there is, for instance, a Teach Jamie Redknapp the meaning of the word literally campaign on Facebook) so I thought I might as well mention it.

Okay. This is how it works.

If someone says Gareth Bale is flying down the wing (Gareth Bale is a hugely talented Welsh soccer player), no one imagines that the lovely Gareth is truly flying in the manner of a bird or an aeroplane. We know it just means that he's running very fast indeed.

But if someone says Gareth Bale is literally flying down the wing then that changes everything. 
The literally makes everything physically true: so Gareth is really flying, like Superman - and the FA are going to have to make up a whole new set of rules.

As I said, it's a word that gives me a lot of joy.

I really do put myself literally in a character's shoes. Ruth Rendall.

Sometimes I've gotten photographs back and people have literally shaven pieces off me. Alicia Keys.

These balls, now - they literally explode off your feet. Jamie Redknapp.

Bless them all!

Word To Use Today, if Possible Without Making a Complete Idiot of Yourself: literally.
This word is from the Latin littera, meaning letter of the alphabet.


  1. Shocked to see one of my TOP FAVOURITE WRITERS in the Word Den Hall of Shame! It must have been an uncharacteristic slip of the tongue on the part of the Divine Ruth R!

  2. BUT even the Word Den nods, and RUTH is RENDELL spelled like that!

  3. Whoops! Thanks, Adele.
    Hey, but no, we both have some wiggle room here - let's assume it wasn't Ruth Rendell at all, but a slightly less godly homophone!

  4. Nice to see a Welsh footballer getting a mention! Even if he does play for Them.

    I read an article which said Gareth Bale was literally on fire. Well, he does have pace to burn.