Paradise for pedants: Software replaces the word 'literally' with 'figuratively' online

Stop terrorising the uneducated masses while you literally can

Does the misuse of the word ‘literally’ have you figuratively tearing out your hair? If so then we literally have the app for you: an extension for Google’s Chrome browser that replaces every instance of the word ‘literally’ with ‘figuratively’. 

It’s called ‘Literally’ and comes with the following description: “Replaces the word 'literally' with 'figuratively'. That's literally all it does.” The five star reviews from users say it all: “This is figuratively the best invention of all time,” writes one delirious downloader.

Of course, many of you will point out that despite the continual (and surely exhausting) outrage of pedants online, the twin history of ‘literally’ and ‘figuratively’ is not quite as divergent as you might think, with the word ‘literally’ being deployed in a hyperbolic sense for centuries.

Pundits have pointed out that even Charles Dickens was ‘guilty’, writing in Nicholas Nickleby in 1839 that “his looks were very haggard, and his limbs and body literally worn to the bone,” while the OED itself includes the description of literally as a word “used for emphasis while not being literally true” – a definition that was first introduced in 1903 but with the earliest example dating back to 1769.

Whether or not you like to pick people up on the distinction depends on whether you’re a descriptivist or a prescriptivist (do you think language change is inevitable or that there are rules that should be enforced?) but in either case the ‘Literally’ extension makes for fun reading online.

As Slate’s Will Oremus points out, installing the browser leads to some glorious “unintentional accuracy” from excited headline writers. “10 Things You Figuratively Do Not Have Time For” and “The 2014 MTV Movie Awards Were Figuratively On Fire” are two examples of the honest clickbait the extension produces.

However, while the widget (designed by programmer Mike Walker) doesn’t cover tweets and images, it can also skew meaning in the other direction, as with a recent story “White Sox Rookie Abreu Figuratively Destroys a Baseball.” Unfortunately this is only downplaying Abreu’s prowess in the diamond: he literally destroyed that ball.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £25000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

    Recruitment Genius: HTML5 Games Developer

    £34000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Engineer

    £20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for an excellent opport...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map