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We’ve misused the word “literally” so much that the dictionary has literally (in the original sense of the word) adjusted itself to reflect the habitual error, and it pretty much means the exact opposite.

In an alarming trend, native/fluent English speakers figuratively butcher our language in ways that make me literally feel nauseated on a daily basis. Here are 12 of the common cases.

1. Ironic

What you think it means: A funny coincidence
What it actually means: The opposite of what is commonly expected

Most of the time when people say something is ironic, they just mean it’s coincidental. Take, for example, everything mentioned in the Alanis Morrisette song, aptly-named “Ironic.” Rain on your wedding day is not irony, it’s just a crappy coincidence. But the song itself, which claims to be ironic but isn’t, is therefore ironic as a whole. Does that make sense?

2. Ultimate

What you think it means: The best or the greatest
What it actually means: The last thing on a list

If you say that Puerto Rico is “your ultimate vacation spot,” you are not saying it’s the coolest vacation spot, you are saying it’s the last vacation spot on your list of potential getaways. And that really isn’t fair, because Puerto Rico is a lovely place, and you don’t even need a passport to go there.

3. Compelled

What you think it means: To want to do something
What it actually means: Force or oblige (someone) to do something

Feeling compelled to watch Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, just because you’re bored isn’t the correct usage of the word. Being compelled to watch Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day because you’ve seen the first one and feel obliged to finish the saga means you are using the word correctly but have terrible taste in films.

4. Nauseous

What you think it means: To feel sick
What it actually means: To cause feelings of sickness

If you have an upset stomach, you are nauseatedThe three-week-old burrito that you found behind your radiator and still decided to eat? That burrito was nauseous, because it made you feel nauseated.

5. Redundant

What you think it means: Repetitive
What it actually means: Very excessive

People think that saying the same thing twice in a row is redundant, but it’s not. Saying something 1,000 times in a row is definitely redundant, because it’s overly excessive. Saying something 1,000 times in a row is definitely redundant, because it’s overly excessive. See? That wasn’t redundant. It was just really, really annoying.

6. Peruse

What you think it means: To skim something, not examine closely
What it actually means: To thoroughly examine something

When you say you “perused an article,” don’t be surprised if someone considers you knowledgeable on the subject: you should comprehend the material thoroughly. Perusing means to take a long, hard look at something, not just a quick skim.

 

7. Chronic

What you think it means: Overpowering, severe
What it actually means: Reoccurring over a long period of time, habitual

“Chronic pain in your knee” doesn’t mean your knee hurts really badly; it means you have pain that reoccurs over a long period of time. It can apply to an illness, a habit, or a problem. I’m really not sure what chronic obstacles Dr. Dre was talking about on his classic 1994 album, but he looks pretty relaxed about them. I’m assuming it was nothing serious.

8. Travesty

What you think it means: A horrible event, a tragedy
What it actually means: A distorted representation of something

This may be one of the most misused words on this list. Horrible wars or mass killings aren’t necessarily travesties. A travesty is more like a parody or mockery of something; it’s not a tragedy. For example, if a murderer avoids jail time due to a technicality, you could call it a “travesty of justice.” A movie parodying a famous genre can be considered a travesty, even if it’s lighthearted. As for your prom night? That remains a travesty. Some things never change.

9. Disinterested

What you think it means: Being bored with something
What it actually means: Indifferent, having no feelings

Being disinterested in your guinea pig doesn’t mean you are bored with it, it means you have no feelings toward it at all. In other words, you give exactly zero fucks. This is a problem, because guinea pigs need regular feedings and water. Use “uninterested” instead and keep that lil’ guy alive.

10. Electrocute

What you think it means: To receive an electric shock
What it actually means: A severe injury or death as a result of an electric shock

Being electrocuted means you are in some serious shit: like, either dead or close to it. No, your desk lamp doesn’t electrocute you every time you touch it. That’s just a shock.

11. Plethora

What you think it means: An abundance or a lot of something
What it actually means: An overabundance or an excessive amount of something

A plethora is not just a bunch of something, it’s an overabundance, or way too much of something that creates a problem. If you have a plethora of squash in your kitchen, it means that you have way too many squashes to deal with. This would be a very strange (but not horrible) problem to have.

12. Regularly

What you think it means: To do something frequently
What it actually means: To do something in a scheduled or predictable manner

If you regularly make a lot of the mistakes on this list, it doesn’t mean you say these words incorrectly with frequency. It means you do so on a scheduled, predictable manner, like at the same time every day. Hopefully, after reading this list, your mistakes will be neither frequent nor regular, just absent altogether.

 

Source

12 WORDS PEOPLE USE WRONG LITERALLY EVERYDAY

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