Of pets and peeves: Illustrating my point...literally.

Here's a little ground work for my stick figure rant today.

1. in the literal or strict sense: What does the word mean literally?
2. in a literal manner; word for word: to translate literally.
3. actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy: The city was literally destroyed.
4. in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually.

Usage note:
Since the early 20th century, literally has been widely used as an intensifier meaning “in effect, virtually,” a sense that contradicts the earlier meaning “actually, without exaggeration”: The senator was literally buried alive in the Iowa primaries. The parties were literally trading horses in an effort to reach a compromise. The use is often criticized; nevertheless, it appears in all but the most carefully edited writing.  

Confession time.  The misuse of the word literally drives me crazy!! How can a word that means one thing have a usage that means the exact opposite?  It doesn't make any sense.  So often people say literally when they actually mean figuratively, but I can't get the image of what they've said out of my head.  And usually it's not pleasant. 

I'm going to illustrate my point here.  I literally am.  Here are a few examples, and I know you've all heard these before.

Someone says, "I literally fell to pieces when it happened."

I think, really, you literally fell to pieces?  And this images pops into my head. 

Thanks a lot random person.  Now I have to walk around with a scene from Mississippi Chainsaw Massacre in my head all day.

Or how about these?

"I literally died when I heard the news."

Great now I'm thinking about The Ring

"I'm literally going to kill myself if he doesn't call."

What horror movie doesn't have a terrifying phone call? 

"I literally had a heart attack when it happened."
"My heart literally burst from excitement."
There's just no way any of this ends well.

See?  Literally and horrible death go hand in hand.  You say literally, and I see this:
Sorry if this is morbid, but it's not pleasant for me either. So lets just agree that you won't ever misuse the word literally.  Or maybe you shouldn't use the word at all.  I rarely do even when it might be considered appropriate.  Like today.  I would like to say that misuse of the word literally is literally a pet peeve of mine, but if I did this is what would come to mind.

You guessed it,  as soon as my pet, Peeve drinks the water... Gremlins.


  1. You have me so scared that I don't think I'll ever use, say, or write that word again.

  2. There ARE LITERALLY TEARS IN MY EYES from laughing so hard!!!!

  3. Oh, and that's tears as in water, not a rip. That would be freaky. ;)

  4. You are literally hilarious! I got a good laugh from Glam's comment, too.
    Who knew you were so artistic?

  5. This totally reminds me of a "How I Met your Mother" episode. It was LITERALLY their funniest episode ever.


    So, you are not alone. I LOVED your drawings.

  6. Patti,
    Good! Then I've done what I set out to do. :)

    Tears in the eyes. Now I'm officially creeped out! But I'm glad you had a good laugh.

    I certainly didn't know. But if my writing doesn't work out maybe I can make a career out of stick figure drawings.

  7. Wendy,
    I just read that synopsis. So funny. I fear that I've "spoiled" all of you now. LOL

  8. I personally like to say this word just to bug Candi now. It's quite fun. When we're on the phone, I say things like, "it literally broke my heart" and "it is literally going to kill me." Then I listen to her gasp in horror. See, fun! :) No, but seriously, I am much more of aware of this word with you as my friend.

  9. BTW, I think your pet, Peeve, is going to escape from that cage because you didn't draw bars on the top. :) And then your pet, Peeve, will run loose over the land infecting everyone with the literally disease (maybe he already has). Love your drawings.

  10. This is hilarious! Hubby and I were just discussing this. A colleague of his was on the phone at the office and said, "She was literally on fire." Ouch!

    Found my way over from melane's blog.

  11. HILARIOUS!! I'm seriously cracking up over here. My favorite is the "pet" peeve. LOL!

    Candice, you are too funny. But I agree with your post. My little sisters (who are also twins) use the word "literally" all the time. And in all the wrong contexts. I'm SO going to direct them to this post. :)

  12. Chantele,

    I could care less. LOL! Now who's bugging who? And yes, my cage was incomplete. I'm quite embarrassed that you caught me in such an obvious lapse of artistic realism. :)

    Welcome! I only wish I had been able to draw your example. It would have been awesome.

    Wow, there are a lot of twins in your family. That's one strong twin gene. Yes, please do show your sisters this. It will be a public service. Maybe I should have entitled this, a public service announcement. It's that vital.

  13. I will literally never misuse the word literally again. :)

  14. Jennifer,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. Glad I could convince you to not perpetuate this terrible epidemic in our literary society. :)

  15. Candi, you are literally the funniest daughter I have named Candi.

  16. Mom,
    I love you, but that sentence was two words too long. :)

  17. LMAO!!!!!! Love it!!! My stomach hurts from laughing!

  18. I was going to say something using the word 'literally,' but many others have beat me to it, so I will just tell you how much I loved your pictures. Especially the last one. Maybe you should run contests like Natalie and then you can illustrate our characters.

  19. Natalie,
    I'm glad you liked the rantings of my crazy mind. :)

    Maybe I should run a contest, but at the end I'll draw the loser's character in my childish/nightmarish sort of way. That should really encourage people to try their hardest to win. Who wants to see the character they love desecrated like that?

  20. Hey missy, I gave you an award on my blog =]

  21. Next, will you write about my pet peeve?... Automatic toilets that flush before you finish... Thanks!

  22. Me. If my protagonist looked like the monster Peeve then I would definitely be inspired to enter.

  23. Jessie,
    hmmmm.... the wheels in my head are turning (which is a rather slow and laborious process). Perhaps it will yield results in a week or two in the form of a character "sketch" (keep in mind I use the term sketch very, very loosely).

  24. Natalie,
    Thanks! I feel so special and validated when I get blog awards. You're sweet to think of me.

    This is a PG rated site. ;)

  25. You've got me literally scared to death to use that word ever again. *Draw a stick of me dead by scare because that's what I literally am.

  26. I think Kasie has something with that Peeve story. A vicious blob of brown goopiness that runs around infecting people with various peeves. I'd read that book!

  27. Hilarious drawings. I literally hate the misuse of the word as well. I actually think it sounds odd in books when they literally use it correctly.
    I have an award for you at my Writer's Butt blog.

  28. It's so sad that most people could care less about this issue.

    (That's my pet peeve right there. It's making me very twitchy even to have written it as a joke. The phrase is supposed to be COULDN'T care less. Because, you know, LANGUAGE HAS MEANING. Argh.)

  29. Heh. I just saw that another commenter had the same complaint as me...

  30. Tricia,
    I would never draw you dead. It would be bad luck, I think! And then if something really happened to you I would feel guilty forever!

    That sounds strangely familiar... I think it's the story of my son potty training.

    Thank you so much. I'm going to go check out your blog. ;)

    Yes, Kasie hates it when people say "I could care less." So naturally I say it all the time, and she says literally in all the wrong contexts. Constantly bugging each other.. its the way we show love.

  31. Forget writing! You should be a cartoonist!!! Tee hee hee hee!!!

  32. Pam,
    As long as nobody cares about being able to decipher my character's actions of feelings. :) I just looked at you beautiful artwork. I love your picture books!

  33. I wish I had found this hilarious post sooner. I don't think I could write anything half so funny about my pet peeve, the evil apostrophe invasion. Thanks TONS for the much needed LOL moment.

  34. It looks like you switched the labels on the last picture and Peeve should be pee.