Is there a word as commonly misused as literally? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:
In a literal manner or sense; exactly:
‘the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the roundabout’
‘tiramisu, literally translated ‘pull-me-up’’
The opposite of literally is figuratively. We’d mostly use this word if there were a chance that something we said could be taken literally, or if we wanted to refer to both figurative and literal uses of the same phrase. For example:
The mysterious blackout left people both literally and figuratively in the dark.
Yet if the meanings of these two words are so diametrically opposed, why would people make apparently obvious mistakes with them? Here are some of the most egregious mistakes I’ve come across: