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Hello,

What exactly are the meanings of "LITERALLY",and how can we use it in different ways

I am not so clear about its meaning and often get confused,plz explain it with the help of examples.

Thanks[A]
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I think it is best used when using a phrase that is normally figurative.

For example...eating someones dust means losing to them in a race. If we were racing on a dirt track, and you were behind me, I could say that you were literally eating my dust.

Does that help?
Well yes it helped me somewhat but still I want some more examples so that I can have an idea how to use it altough I understand what you said in your reply.I want some more example in which literally is being used I hope you 'll help me in this regard.And also do me favour,check my grammer mistakes also in my post.

gratefull[A]
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And with his eyes he literally scoured the corners of his cell - Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading

Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet. - James Joyce, Dubliners

They will literally turn the world upside down to combat cruelty or unjustice - Norman Cousins, Saturday Review

It is used hyperbolically, like "actually" or "really". But you should be aware that some people don't like this use of the word.
Okay, I am one of those people who cringe when I hear "literally" used to mean "figuratively" -- even by the esteemed authors quoted by Alienvoord. I realize that this use is becoming more and more common, but I would suggest that English learners avoid it, if you don't want some people to think you just don't know the meaning of the word.

"Literally" means "exactly what the words say, not metaphorically or figuratively." As Old Man Gordon says, it is best used when you want to stress the actual meaning of the words rather than their idiomatic or figurative meaning. For example:

"I ran into your sister this morning" usually means that I happened to meet her. But if I say "I literally ran into your sister this morning," it means that I bumped into her and maybe knocked her down, or possibly crashed my car into her car.

Another example: "asleep at the wheel" might mean, figuratively, that someone was not paying proper attention to their job -- we might say "the American press was asleep at the wheel when it reported claims of weapons of mass destruction without further investigation." But if I say "John was literally asleep at the wheel this morning; he crashed his car into a fence!" it means that he actually fell asleep while driving his car.

Does that help?
KhoffOkay, I am one of those people who cringe when I hear "literally" used to mean "figuratively" -- even by the esteemed authors quoted by Alienvoord. I realize that this use is becoming more and more common, but I would suggest that English learners avoid it, if you don't want some people to think you just don't know the meaning of the word.

It must be something in the Colorado water, because I can't stand to hear 'literally' when 'virtually' is clearly the better choice.
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Hey, Philip, you're up even earlier than I am today! But don't worry -- I won't say you're literally an early bird! It drives me crazy when people use "literally" to mean its exact opposite.
KhoffHey, Philip, you're up even earlier than I am today! But don't worry -- I won't say you're literally an early bird! It drives me crazy when people use "literally" to mean its exact opposite.
With respect, I'll go with the judgment of great writers like Nabokov and Joyce. Emotion: smile

Anyway, how is it different than figurative use of "really"? If I say "I'm really starving," that doesn't mean I'm starving for real.

We all use language figuratively. But it seems that "literally" is the only word in English that some people think we can't use figuratively.
Alienvoord
KhoffHey, Philip, you're up even earlier than I am today! But don't worry -- I won't say you're literally an early bird! It drives me crazy when people use "literally" to mean its exact opposite.
With respect, I'll go with the judgment of great writers like Nabokov and Joyce. Emotion: smile

Anyway, how is it different than figurative use of "really"? If I say "I'm really starving," that doesn't mean I'm starving for real.

We all use language figuratively. But it seems that "literally" is the only word in English that some people think we can't use figuratively.
The use of hyperbole by is often acceptable in professional writing. I think that people learning the language should learn to use the exact meaning of the word before venturing into writing that allows for literary devices.

In the mean while, the word "literally" may make the same transition that "really" has. That's fine. Until then, I will consider it hyperbole.
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