In response to Daily Prompt: Head Turners

Last night, in a regrettable lapse of judgment, I wore my headset while playing GTAV online. While I managed to filter out the misguided racial slurs and lazy homophobia, the following disclosure caught my attention.

 ” Guy, I was literally raped… for an hour straight, by a twelve year old camper “

 The speaker Lega1Bud420 directed this at UrMombloes, the pilot of the attack helicopter in which we were fleeing the police. Now my natural inclination would be to chalk this up as colorful speech, but Bud had assured us this was a plain spoken, literal account of events, devoid of hyperbole or narrative color. He’d been sexually assaulted, at length, by a juvenile outdoor enthusiast. UrMombloes asked the natural follow up.

 “Couldn’t you just go somewhere else so he couldn’t get you”

 LegalBud elaborated.

 “Nah, he had a bunch of friends with him that would flush me out into the open when I tried to hide”

 I was near to tears when Lega1Bud undercut my sympathy with a confession of his own misdeeds.

 ” He was mad because me and my cousin have been raping him for weeks”

 Now, while two rapes don’t make a right, I can at least understand the twelve year old’s need for revenge. Still, I had a nagging doubt.

 “Where did this “literal” rape happen?” I asked.

 “The high-rise map in Call of Duty” Bud replied.

 I debated responding, but it ate at me

 “That is, at best, a Figurative rape. Literally means the opposite”

 Lega1bud420 challenged this assertion.

 “Fuck you, bro. Read the dictionary”

 Desperate to prove a stranger wrong about a fine point of grammar, I took his suggestion and read the following entry.



adverb \ˈli-tə-rə-lē, ˈli-trə-lē, ˈli-tər-lē\

Definition of LITERALLY


:  in a literal sense or manner :  actually <took the remark literally> <was literally insane>


:  in effect :  virtually <will literally turn the world upside down to combat cruelty or injustice — Norman Cousins>

See literally defined for English-language learners »

See literally defined for kids »


Fuck me, Bro, indeed. He was right. In response to unrelenting misuse Merriam-Webster has amended the meaning of literally to encompass both Actually and Figuratively. If I call emergency services, to alert them that I am literally trapped in the closet, they are as likely to connect me to a GLBT counseling center as they are a locksmith.

By this logic, since people often roll through Stop signs, we should change the word to mean both “Stay where you are” and “Proceed without hesitation“. We are asking a generation, that needs pictures of faces to infer emotional tone, to divine the meaning of a word that changes entirely on the whim of the speaker. A concession to stupidity shouldn’t make language use more complex. I’m switching to German.