For years, smart people have used an easy trick to figure out whether the person they’re talking to is an idiot: Do they use the word “literally” correctly or not?
But recently, a civil war has raged between dictionary providers over whether the definition of “literally” should include a meaning that is, literally, the opposite of what “literally” means. And now Google has joined the traitors in the fight, with this definition for the word:
The second definition — which betrays the first definition — has been included because traditionally dictionary providers have bowed to usage, that is, the way words’ meanings change in popular currency.
But one dictionary stands alone against the barbarians. One tome still maintains standards. It’s literally taking a stand for “literally”: I’m talking about Urban Dictionary, the ne plus ultra when it comes to common usage:
Urban Dictionary has six entries defining “literally,” and literally all of them are against using “literally” in place of “figuratively” or “virtually.”
This is what it has come to.