A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Webster's Dictionary, Macmillian Dictionary, The Cambridge Dictionary and Google have all altered their definition of the word "literally."
The word used to mean "actually" or "exactly." Now in addition to that definition it also means "virtually or figuratively."
*Editor's Note: That was the sound of Bob's world-weary soul escaping through his mouth.
This is no doubt in response to the vast amount of cretins who insist on saying things like, "It was so hot outside that I literally melted." Obviously they mean this figuratively, but are using "literally" for exaggerated emphasis. Or perhaps they're just simpletons who don't understand how to properly speak their own language.
Many will no doubt shrug at this and say, "Languages evolve. Deal with it." This is true. If they didn't we'd all still be saying thee, thou and forsooth.
It's a given that words change their meaning over time. "Awful" used to mean "full of awe." "Basement" once meant "toilet." And "cute" used to mean "shrewd."
But this isn't evolution. This is devolution. It's making things worse, not better. This isn't an instance of a word evolving a secondary definition, this is a case of it suddenly meaning the precise opposite, while still retaining its original meaning. Gosh, that won't be the least bit confusing.
This is pure and simple laziness by the people who speak like this; mouth-breathers who text while walking down the street and fall into open manholes or fountains and then try to sue the city.
What's even more appalling is that dictionaries that are actually sanctioning it! What's next? "Go" means proceed and stop? "Dangerous" means safe and deadly?
The world just got a little more stupid today. Literally.