The Literal Problem with “Literally”

By Phin Upham

Do you literally use the word “literally” all of the time? Doing so would be impossible, but it’s likely that you overuse it. That’s the premise of a recent column in The Guardian by Martha Gill, who points out that our society has come to accept the fact that the word can mean something happening “in a literal manner or sense” or it can be used to “for emphasis or to express strong feeling.”

Gill believes that the dual nature of the word is a sign of its weakness; that by having two contrasting meanings, it has been watered down to the point of uselessness. According to Gill, even when someone uses “literally” in the original context, it only serves to derail the conversation. Gill recommends avoiding the usage of the word entirely.

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Phin Upham About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or LinkedIn page.