Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb In a literal manner; word for word.
  • adverb In a literal or strict sense.
  • adverb Really; actually.
  • adverb Used as an intensive before a figurative expression.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In a literal manner or sense; according to the strict import of the word or words; exactly: as, the city was literally destroyed; the narrative is literally true.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb According to the primary and natural import of words; not figuratively.
  • adverb With close adherence to words; word by word.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb speech act word for word; not figuratively; not as an idiom or metaphor
  • adverb degree, proscribed used non-literally as an intensifier for figurative statements: virtually (often considered incorrect; see usage notes)
  • adverb UK, colloquial Used as a generic downtoner: just, merely.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb in a literal sense
  • adverb (intensifier before a figurative expression) without exaggeration

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

literal +‎ -ly

Examples

  • The title literally translates as "Lord of Light".

    http://www.religionandspirituality.com

  • The original French title literally translates as "Howling Metal."

    Retro-View: Heavy Metal #v8#03 (June 1984)

  • The original French title literally translates as "Howling Metal."

    Archive 2010-03-01

  • I think the name literally translates as 'big antlers' thanks to Gaelic Dictionaries Online.

    It's The Stag's Antlers

  • Simone, whose subtitle literally translates as "Why the West is not leaning to the Left".

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • You know … my Father named me 'nina' which in Italian literally translates as 'little girl'

    lazy geisha

  • The Peruvian-Spanish-Chilean co-production, whose title literally translates as "The Frightened Tit" - an allusion to an indigenous belief that mothers pass their fear on to their children through their breast milk - won the Golden Bear for best picture in Berlin in February.

    IPS Inter Press Service

  • The Peruvian-Spanish-Chilean co-production, whose title literally translates as "The Frightened Tit" - an allusion to an indigenous belief that mothers pass their fear on to their children through their breast milk - won the Golden Bear for best picture in Berlin in February.

    IPS Inter Press Service

  • The title literally translates into "Bush's estate is bankrupt across the board," but it can also be translated as "Bush's legacy is bankrupt across the board," as it is at

    The Moderate Voice

  • The title literally translates into "Bush's estate is bankrupt across the board," but it can also be translated as "Bush's legacy is bankrupt across the board," as it is at

    The Moderate Voice

Comments

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  • No, you did not literally fly out of bed this morning.

    December 24, 2006

  • I support the founding of a coalition to bring the much-neglected but much-needed word "figuratively" back into proper use.

    May 23, 2007

  • When you use literally to mean figuratively, you are speaking hyperbolically.

    May 24, 2007

  • I dunno, seems like the whole point of the word literally is to make it clear that you're not using hyperbole. At least, that was its original purpose. I think, if you have to outright TELL someone you're exaggerating, maybe you should practice your exaggeration a little more. It should be obvious without the label.

    May 24, 2007

  • http://literally.barelyfitz.com/

    May 24, 2007

  • I think people might actually mean "practically", though I have no insight as to how this mix-up could have happened.

    October 31, 2007

  • I once heard a noted religious leader talk about people "literally kicking themselves out of the Church". Now that would be something to see!

    December 4, 2007

  • Actually v. figuratively.

    May 24, 2008

  • I rise in opposition to the tag "auto-antonym" being applied to this word. Good sirs and madams, I ask you: can we in good conscience allow "literally" to mean "figuratively"?

    Certainly the general public uses the word this way. And under most circumstances, I am all for following the general usage. In this case, though, I say that we must put up a fight. A fight, I tell you!

    If "literally" no longer means "literally", then what shall we use in its place? And even if suitable substitutes can be found, why should we allow ourselves to lose a perfectly good word in the first place?

    Fight the trend, good people. Refuse to define "literally" as "figuratively"! Posterity will thank you.

    May 24, 2008

  • “‘That guy I used to know, he’s gone,’ Mr. Biden said of Mr. McCain at the campaign event in Maumee, shaking his head. ‘It literally saddens me,’ added Mr. Biden, who tends to used the word ‘literally’ about a dozen times per speech (literally).�?

    The New York Times, Meanwhile, the Other No. 2 Keeps On Punching, by Mark Leibovich, September 19, 2008

    September 20, 2008