word for word; not imaginatively, figuratively, or freely: to translate a passage literally
actually; in fact [the house literally burned to the ground]: now often used as an intensive to modify a word or phrase that itself is being used figuratively [she literally flew into the room]: this latter usage is objected to by some
In a literal manner; word for word: translated the Greek passage literally.
In a literal or strict sense: Don't take my remarks literally.
a. Really; actually: “There are people in the world who literally do not know how to boil water”(Craig Claiborne).
b. Used as an intensive before a figurative expression.
Usage Note: For more than a hundred years, critics have remarked on the incoherency of using literally in a way that suggests the exact opposite of its primary sense of “in a manner that accords with the literal sense of the words.” In 1926, for example, H.W. Fowler cited the example “The 300,000 Unionists … will be literally thrown to the wolves.” The practice does not stem from a change in the meaning of literally itself—if it did, the word would long since have come to mean “virtually” or “figuratively”—but from a natural tendency to use the word as a general intensive, as in They had literally no help from the government on the project, where no contrast with the figurative sense of the words is intended.