For years, the definition of the word “literally” seemed pretty clear. Merriam-Webster defined it as “in a literal sense or manner : actually.” But recently, people have increasingly taken to misusing the word, adding it less for it’s actual meaning and more for verbal flair and emphasis.
Well, sticklers for proper usage may literally die when they hear this. According to Salon, “Webster, Macmillan Dictionary and Google have added this latter informal use of ‘literally’ as part of the word’s official definition. The Cambridge Dictionary has also jumped on board.”
In fact, if you head over to Merriam-Webster now, you will find the second definition, “2: in effect : virtually.”
Is it dumb for dictionaries to make the switch? Well, you can’t really blame them for defining a word as society uses it. That’s how language evolves. But you can blame society for being dumb enough to repeatedly misuse a word so much that its definition needs to be amended to include a second definition that is the opposite of what it originally meant.
The educated following the dumb. The whole situation is literally a metaphor for how our world seems to operate these days. And yes, you can have a literal metaphor because apparently the word “literally” doesn’t mean jack s**t anymore.