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Abused Word of the Day: Literally

January 29, 2018

When Merriam-Webster gave “literally” two seemingly opposite definitions, its writers noted that some readers were not happy about it. The definitions:

1) in a literal sense or manner: actually
2) in effect: virtually

This led readers to leave comments such as, “This is literally the stupidest thing I've ever read. 

Most often, the first definition is the desired one. And, most often, the word is literally unnecessary. It’s typically used for emphasis, as in, “I’m literally down to my last dollar.” In this case, as in most others, the sentence is stronger without it: “I’m down to my last dollar.”

You can extract the word from your vocabulary and never notice that it’s missing. But you may find that it is occasionally handy. 

Last week, I had to explain to a friend that he literally couldn’t buy a house on the water.

 

Abused Word of the Day: Interact

January 14, 2017

The workplace used to have bosses, who told their subordinates what to do. The subordinates did as they were told, because they liked to be gainfully employed. Today’s managers prefer to “interact” with their fellow employees. To “interact” is to act together, so one person can’t interact without another also interacting. It sounds democratic, but it’s pure mush. #MeToo should take note of all of this interacting and seek to extract it from the workplace. It’s a verbal assault we can do without.