Words

What does literally mean?

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Literally means something is true to the words that describe it.

If you hear someone say that a person is “rolling in dough,” you probably think that they’re talking about a rich person with a lot of money. That’s how people usually use that phrase. However, if someone is “literally rolling in dough,” it means that someone is on the floor rolling around on top of some sort of bread dough. That would be both messy and ridiculous, but if it’s actually happening and you need to describe it, the word “literally” just might help you do it.

Exploration

Literally vs. Figuratively

The opposite of “literally” is “figuratively.” By speaking figuratively, we can creatively say things that aren’t really happening in order to help people understand what’s going on. “Spill the beans” is a good example of a figurative phrase. Almost always, it’s used to mean that someone told a secret, and not that beans were literally spilled. Take a look at these phrases. Which ones are probably literal? Which ones are probably figurative? “It’s raining cats and dogs!”, “She’s feeding cats and dogs.”, “He is sweating a lot!”, “He is sweating bullets!”, “She was kicked out of the store.”, “She kicked a soccer ball.”, “All the world’s a stage”, “Mars is out of this world!”

Sources

literal. Meriam-Websters Online Dictionary.