Definition of literally in English:

literally

adverb

  • 1In 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’’
    • ‘As soon as I heard the crash I looked up and he literally came through the roof.’
    • ‘One wonders if he knows where the bodies are buried, perhaps quite literally.’
    • ‘Here is, literally, a national platform for a politician who aspires to be a national leader.’
    • ‘Bulbs were literally worth their weight in gold and the Dutch economy was in serious risk of collapse.’
    • ‘A key point is that space should be owned and supervised, literally and metaphorically.’
    • ‘According to his ex-wife, he literally ran away a number of times during their marriage.’
    • ‘The art of edging is to literally tip your skis sideways allowing the edge to cut into the snow.’
    • ‘What worries me is that these guys are going to run into problems literally the first day out.’
    • ‘The couple met three years ago when they literally bumped into each other at a Hampton Court funfair.’
    • ‘The event was literally hot with a fire dancer welcoming everybody with a puff of fire.’
    • ‘The ground on which the match is being played is, literally, next door to his mansion.’
    • ‘Of course the house was still standing after Bruce's encore so it didn't literally come down.’
    • ‘In some bizarre animator's joke, they were literally suspended, all hung in the air in a big room.’
    • ‘The nuances, exaggerations and pretences of conversation can be taken literally.’
    • ‘Police in Bradford are helping to show the way to other forces by proving literally that crime does not pay.’
    • ‘Darsana literally means view, in the sense of having a cognitive sight of something.’
    • ‘I'll be staying with villagers who live with landmines literally on their doorsteps.’
    • ‘Several huge branches were quite literally held in place by lengths of rope.’
    • ‘We kept him there for twenty more minutes, and when he had to leave we literally followed him to the door of his taxi cab.’
    • ‘Every Zulu thrust was repulsed by soldiers literally fighting for their lives.’
    verbatim, word for word, line for line, letter for letter, to the letter
    exactly, precisely, faithfully, closely, strictly, strictly speaking, accurately, rigorously
    literatim
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal Used for emphasis while not being literally true:
      ‘I was literally blown away by the response I got’
      • ‘This has brought us into contact with literally thousands who think as we do.’
      • ‘In Milan I literally had to work my socks off to get on to a train to Paris.’
      • ‘Just as the strings literally reach orgasm, what do I hear from the other sofa?’
      • ‘There are literally thousands of techniques you can use, and it all depends on what rings true for you.’
      • ‘When he returned to York after the war he had a business plan which literally revolved around the motor car.’
      • ‘So what else did he do but literally pick me up and sat in the car with me practically sitting on him.’
      • ‘We can buy fresh lettuce, literally straight out of the ground, for nine pence.’
      • ‘Dinner, which comes in menus of up to eight superb courses, literally frolics on your tongue.’
      • ‘He had literally turned my own sentence upon me and made me look an idiot.’
      • ‘That first weekend I literally locked myself in my room, sleepless and without eating.’
      • ‘It is not surprising that she is, literally, the most prized journalist in America today.’
      • ‘On any given day there are literally thousands of people trying to kick the smoking habit.’
      • ‘He has literally put blood, sweat and tears into earning a living for his family, but it goes with the turf.’
      • ‘I have spent literally hours on search engines, as have friends, and friends of friends.’
      • ‘To provide that level of service we would be talking about spending literally millions of pounds.’
      • ‘I literally don't know what the next sentence is, which is probably why my books are the way they are.’
      • ‘I literally park there for five minutes while I walk my girls to the school gates and collect them.’
      • ‘The last federal election came down to literally a handful of votes in some ridings.’
      • ‘Two ushers had to literally pick the guy up out of his chair and drag him out.’
      • ‘Know that there are literally millions around the world who are with you in this moment.’

Usage

In its standard use literally means ‘in a literal sense, as opposed to a non-literal or exaggerated sense’, as for example in I told him I never wanted to see him again, but I didn't expect him to take it literally. In recent years an extended use of literally (and also literal) has become very common, where literally (or literal) is used deliberately in non-literal contexts, for added effect, as in they bought the car and literally ran it into the ground. This use can lead to unintentional humorous effects (we were literally killing ourselves laughing) and is not acceptable in formal contexts, though it is widespread

Pronunciation:

literally

/ˈlɪt(ə)rəli/