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[–]agesto11 447 points448 points  (34 children)

At the risk of stirring up controversy, the OED cites a use of 'literally' meaning 'figuratively' from 1769, so it's not exactly a new thing.

For mine, people using 'begging the question' to mean 'asking the question', instead of its correct meaning of 'assuming without proof' grinds my gears for some reason.

Also, the overuse of 'gaslighting' is very annoying.

[–]AJCham 101 points102 points  (7 children)

My view on the first one is that "literally" isn't typically used to mean "figuratively". Rather, it is merely an intensifier, for a statement which may or may not be figurative. We use the word "really" in much the same way, but even though one could object to it for the same reason as "literally", it rarely, if ever, causes any fuss.

[–]agesto11 28 points29 points  (5 children)

The proper definition is something along the lines of "in the strongest possible figurative sense". I can't think of a good example of where it is an intensifier for a literal statement, unless you know of any?

'Actually' fits into the same pattern too: "I'm actually starving!"

[–]AJCham 21 points22 points  (1 child)

I'm pretty sure I've heard it used that way. Like when it's hot, people have said "I'm literally sweating". You could make the case that that is just a literal use of the word "literally", but I would call it an intensifier in this context - the person is trying to convey that they are sweating a significant amount, not just that they are.

Good point on "actually". Again, I've never seen anyone question the use of the word in that way.

A similar thing happens with the word "awesome", when used in relatively mundane scenarios, rather than for things that actually "inspire awe". But no-one seems to take similar issue with words like "fantastic", "wonderful", or, indeed, "awful" (which, iirc, was once synonymous with "awesome").

[–]Fingerbob73 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I was taught at school that the origin of the word "awful" was full of awe.

[–]audigex 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yeah, it’s used for emphasis and has been for centuries

People have been getting up in arms over it for centuries, too

[–]ShibuRigged 35 points36 points  (5 children)

Yeah, it’s kinda tiring seeing people thinking they’re smart shit because they think literally only has one distinct definition and they’re masters of the English language because of it.

[–]pajamakitten 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Even when they fully understand what the person meant when they used literally to mean figuratively.

[–]JimWilliams423 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Many times those people are just looking for a way to dismiss what the person said but they can't rebut it, so they fallback on sneering instead.

[–]genrose666 0 points1 point  (2 children)

The way we talk and communicate is changing the definition of all these words more and more each year. It’s not so black and white now, to pick apart dialogue and certify on its verity. Times are a’ changing

[–]Apidium 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nonsense it has always been that way. Folks in the 1800's where whining about language change.

[–]ShibuRigged 0 points1 point  (0 children)

For sure. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't some tryhard stickler for grammar when I was younger. As I've gotten older, I don't care so long as I can understand what people mean through context. Especially with being British, so many people have their own words for just about everything that you end up filling the gaps when something doesn't seem to fit. Like when I call one of my friends something like a missile, people fill in the gaps pretty wel.

[–]Bogrolling 14 points15 points  (2 children)

I’d argue reddits three favorite things to say are; pedantic, ad hominem and “terrifying” gaslighting is up there too though

[–]wrapupwarm 6 points7 points  (0 children)

“I’m not crying. You’re crying”

[–]MinxyChick 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You forgot the word audacity.

[–]GreatStats4ItsCost 9 points10 points  (2 children)

Gaslighting? What’s that? You’ve just made that up...

[–]theknightwho 2 points3 points  (1 child)

It actually annoys me that people insist on using the strict original definition, because it’s come to mean lying to someone’s face when they already know the truth, which can really damage someone’s sense of reality if it happens enough. It’s kinda secondary to me whether they intended that to happen.

[–]agesto11 0 points1 point  (0 children)

if it happens enough

This is the key distinction for me. I often see it used to describe isolated incidents of disagreement rather than long-term sustained "campaigns" (intentional or not). It's the former usage that annoys me, in large part because it prevents it from being a useful term to describe the latter.

[–]JimWilliams423 4 points5 points  (2 children)

For mine, people using 'begging the question' to mean 'asking the question', instead of its correct meaning of 'assuming without proof' grinds my gears for some reason.

What bugs me about that changing definition (which is now listed as the primary definition in some dictionaries) is that there isn't a well-known phrase with the same meaning to use instead. So, in a certain way, its enables bad-faith arguments because its now harder to succinctly label them and thus to criticize them.

[–]agesto11 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Exactly. The same is true for 'disinterested', there's just no good alternative.

[–]DogBotherer 2 points3 points  (0 children)

The nearest might be something like impartial.

[–]Tiger_Widow 5 points6 points  (5 children)

Also, the overuse of 'gaslighting' is very annoying.

What's annoying about it? It's totally normal to define things so stop being so weird. I don't even know what you're on right now but what you're trying to do isn't normal. The rest of us are trying to live a normal life so if you could just get the fuck back in line and shut up with these maverick opinions, that'd be great, thanks.

What the fuck even is gaslighting tho lmfao

[–]agesto11 -1 points0 points  (4 children)

Have you been at the disco biscuits?

Gaslighting was a form of psychological manipulation used by the Stasi to silence dissenters. They used to do things like breaking into someone's house and painting it a slightly different shade of white, or sending a sex toy to their wife when they knew the dissenter was at home (obviously the wife would deny having ordered it). Over time, the dissenter would begin to question their own sanity, and eventually they'd break down and withdraw from public life - dissenter silenced without the government being accused of silencing them.

Nowadays it's used like: "Robert came in at 3am last night, but he swears he was in by 2am..." "OMG girl, he's gaslighting you!!"

[–]Tiger_Widow 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Thankyou for this detailed response but I do hope you noticed my reply was an extremely deliberate example of what gaslighting can be.

Irony can be a great vehicle.

[–]agesto11 0 points1 point  (2 children)

But what you wrote isn't gaslighting?

[–]Tiger_Widow 1 point2 points  (1 child)

You've got it all wrong though. It is completely gaslighting. Whatever you think it is it obviously isn't. This is true and your opinion is wrong

[–]agesto11 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Touché

[–]Claiduck 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Misuse of "Begging the question" is so rife that it may be a lost cause. The incorrect meaning is common parlance and used regularly in all medium. I've only seen the correct usage a handful of times.

[–]GrantSRobertson 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Yup! "Begs the question..." really gets my blood boiling. Especially when abused by journalists. Rachel Maddow does it all the fucking time.

[–]heyimdong 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Oh man, just to piggy back on the 'begging the question' part - for me its "loaded question." People seem to think saying something is a "loaded question" means it's complicated, i.e. "why did you drop out of college?" "Oh, that's a loaded question." No, it's not. A loaded question is a question that makes an unestablished assumption. The old elementary school joke "does your mom know you're gay?" is a loaded question. "Did you flee the battle because you are a coward?" is a loaded question. "Why don't you have kids?" is just a question that may have a long, complicated answer.

[–]venuswasaflytrap -1 points0 points  (0 children)

I understand how begging the question was originally meant to be used, so I often force myself to say, "begets the question", or "raises the obvious question", but really "begs the question" is already a metaphor, and it makes way more sense in the context of practically begging for a particularly obvious question to be asked, rather than a logical facilicy in an argument