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literally

used in a sentence
3 meanings
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1  —as in:
literally--not figuratively
Definition actually true using the basic meaning of the words (not an exaggeration, metaphor, or other type of figurative speech)
  • She wasn't literally advocating physical violence.
literally = using the most basic meaning of the words
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • It's dirty money—literally and figuratively.
  • literally = using the most basic meaning of the words
  • Bird nest soup is literally made from a bird's nest.
  • literally = actually (using the basic meaning of the words—not treating them as a figure of speech)
  • The computer has no common sense. It will interpret everything you tell it literally.
  • literally = in manner that uses the basic meaning of words (without understanding metaphors, exaggerations, idioms, etc.)
  • She thinks the creation story in the Bible is a literal description; while he thinks it is poetic.
  • literal = uses the basic meanings of words (not metaphors, allegories, symbolic use of language, etc.)
  • TOO WEAK TO WALK OUT, HAVE LITERALLY BECOME TRAPPED IN THE WILD.
    Jon Krakauer  --  Into the Wild
  • literally = actually (not an exaggeration)
  • It was she who introduced her to the library in the first place and gave her the initial, even literal, window of opportunity.
    Markus Zusak  --  The Book Thief
  • literal = actual (not figurative)
  • It was so dark now we literally couldn't see ten steps ahead of us as we walked toward the woods.
    R.J. Palacio  --  Wonder
  • literally = actually (not an exaggeration)
  • The Japanese literally worked men to death at Naoetsu.
    Laura Hillenbrand  --  Unbroken
  • literally = actually (not an exaggeration)
  • Some are retooled as living quarters for the kids who are, both literally and figuratively, under his wing.
    Neal Shusterman  --  Unwind
literally = actually (not just figuratively)

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list — Onelook.com®
2  —as in:
literally at death's door
Definition an intensifier (to intensify what is said — especially a metaphor)
  • I literally feel like a prisoner in my own home.
literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • I literally laughed my head off.
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)
  • She was literally at death's door.
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)
  • Literally everyone was there.
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)
  • She who is usual so alert, have done literally nothing all the day.
    Bram Stoker  --  Dracula
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)
  • He imagined the girl reading in the shelter. He must have watched her literally handing out the words.
    Markus Zusak  --  The Book Thief
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what follows)
  • He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.
    F. Scott Fitzgerald  --  The Great Gatsby
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)
  • Anyway, about five minutes after I got there, Henry and Savanna were standing next to me, literally hovering over me.
    R.J. Palacio  --  Wonder
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)
  • Our caste was just three away from the bottom. We were artists. And artists and classical musicians were only three steps up from dirt. Literally.
    Kiera Cass  --  The Selection
  • literally = an intensifier (to intensify what was just said)
  • Still, of the literally dozens of portraits of Jesus we'd seen since 2003, Colton had still never seen one he thought was right.
    Todd Burpo  --  Heaven Is for Real
literally = an intensifier (to intensify what is said)

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list — Onelook.com®
3  —as in:
a literal translation
Definition word for word
  • When translating English to another language, if you translate an expression like "What's up?" literally, it will completely confuse people learning the language.
literally = in a manner that is word for word
Other Uses (with this meaning)
  • That app does a literal translation, so idioms like "drop by" don't make any sense when translated.
  • literal = word for word
  • The Great Wall (literally translated as the "long wall") is indeed long.
  • literally = in a manner that is word for word
  • The literal translation of the French vin aigre is "sour wine".
  • literal = word for word
  • The literal translation of lokhay warkawal is "giving of a pot." ... Lokhay means not only providing care and shelter, it means an unbreakable commitment to defend that wounded man to the death.
    Marcus Luttrell  --  Lone Survivor
  • literal = word for word
  • Sang Real literally meant Royal Blood.
    Dan Brown  --  The Da Vinci Code
  • literally = in a manner that is word for word
  • Thus a literal translation of the name of this beautiful sheet of water, used by the tribe that dwelt on its banks, would be "The Tail of the Lake."
    James Fenimore Cooper  --  The Last of the Mohicans
  • literal = word for word
  • But you just use him to learn the literal meaning of the words; don't follow his explanations and interpretation.
    Malala Yousafzai  --  I Am Malala
  • literal = word for word
  • Cesar blew the air hard out of his mouth and said, "Gallo, caballo y mujer, por la raza has de escoger."
      "That better mean 'I promise to be respectful to women,' " she stated.
      "Absolutely," he said, though the literal translation had something to do with comparing a woman to a horse and a rooster.
    W. William Winokur  --  The Perfect Game
  • literal = word for word
  • Sophia literally means wisdom in Greek.
    Dan Brown  --  The Da Vinci Code

Dictionary / pronunciation — Google®Dictionary / more samples — Oxford® USDictionary list — Onelook.com®
Less commonly:
Less common and more specific meanings of literal include:
in various senses, including:
  • an earlier or original meaning of a word — as in "In Japanese the literal meaning of ronin was a 'samurai without a master,' but it is now used to describe a student who did not pass the entrance exam and is without a school."
  • lacking imagination — as in "She has a literal mind."
  • a fixed or hard-coded value in a computer program — as in "Find every instance of the literal in the source code."
  • related to letters — as in "In algebra we use literal notation as when 'x' represents a value."
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