Journalists misunderstanding what ‘literally’ means

24 Jul

It means ‘in truth’, folks.

The following is therefore a misuse:

A New Mexico town is up to its knees in tumbleweeds — literally.

Because, as a commenter noted sarcastically:


I wasn’t aware that towns had knees. Literally.

Towns don’t have knees, of course.

Please remember what ‘literal’ literally means, journalists.

Thank you.


9 responses to “Journalists misunderstanding what ‘literally’ means

  1. feeriker

    July 24, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    I believe most journalists are literally too ignorant to comprehend the problem here (are journalism majors overtaking education majors in the race to the academic bottom?).

  2. Will S.

    July 24, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Alas, indeed…

  3. sfcton

    July 25, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Girl #2 has a master’s degree in journalism. She graduated with a 3.8 an writes like an 8th grader. I’m not sure what they teach folks in journalism school but it ain’t how to be a wordsmith.

  4. Will S.

    July 25, 2014 at 8:51 am

    They teach them what to think, rather than how, and don’t bother with English, assuming their skills are good enough. At least, that’s my take…

  5. weak stream

    July 25, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Another word that is contiually and irritatingly misused is the word traditional. Like a ‘traditional 30 year mortgage’. Do they send you reciepts in Old English or something?

  6. sfcton

    July 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    LOL mortgages are new fangled in general and haven’t been around long enough to be a tradition

  7. Will S.

    July 25, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    @ weakstream, sfcton: That’s messed up, lol!


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