‘The Boy Who Cried Literally’, A CollegeHumor Video That Teaches the Danger of Misusing ‘Literally’

The Boy Who Cried Literally” is a CollegeHumor video meant to show the exaggerated consequences of using the word “literally” to mean “figuratively.” The story is modeled after “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and centers on a character who habitually uses “literally” for emphasis to the annoyance of his friends. They eventually ignore him altogether, which leads to some unfortunate consequences for the boy.

Use of “literally” to mean “figuratively” is a common complaint among people online. That specific complaint was one of many language pet peeves expressed in Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes”, but use of “literally” to mean “figuratively” dates back to at least 1839 when it was used by Charles Dickens in his novel Nicholas Nickleby.

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