Definition of literally in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlɪt(ə)rəli/


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’
More example sentences
  • Darsana literally means view, in the sense of having a cognitive sight of something.
  • One wonders if he knows where the bodies are buried, perhaps quite literally.
  • The ground on which the match is being played is, literally, next door to his mansion.
verbatim, word for word, line for line, letter for letter, to the letter;
exactly, precisely, faithfully, closely, strictly, strictly speaking, accurately, rigorously
rare literatim
1.1 informal Used for emphasis while not being literally true: I have received literally thousands of letters
More example sentences
  • There are literally thousands of techniques you can use, and it all depends on what rings true for you.
  • This has brought us into contact with literally thousands who think as we do.
  • On any given day there are literally thousands of people trying to kick the smoking habit.


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.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: lit|er¦al¦ly

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