1. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.
2. one of the quickest way to annoy a writer when used incorrectly: I literally screamed my head off. (Oh, really? Did you?)
3. another swift way to annoy a writer when used unnecessarily: I literally ate dinner. (Wow. Really glad you threw that extra word in there. Otherwise, I literally would not have understood your statement.)
Literally a Short Story About Literally
I do not have any quotes about the word literally. I searched for them, but literally could not find any. (see what I did there, #3) But I did have a creative writing teacher tell me once on an opening scene where my MC ran to the door and tore it open, that I needed to change that.
“She couldn’t literally tear open the door,” he said. “Not unless she’s a werewolf or something.”
He went on to tell me, “It would be better if she ripped the door off the hinges.”
“Well, she couldn’t literally rip the door off the hinges,” I said before I could stop myself.
He just stared at me for a minute and then added, “Well, if it was a screen door, she could.”
Needless to say, that opening scene assignment did not get an A.