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To begin your search, go to the alphabetical index below and click on the first letter of the word you are searching for.

figuratively, literally, virtually

These words are often wrongly used to convey the opposite of their real meaning.

Figuratively means “not literally, not really.”

  • Voltaire was speaking figuratively when he described Canada as "a few acres of snow."

Literally means “really, actually.”

  • When we went outside, the howling wind made our hair stand on end quite literally.

Virtually means “practically, for all practical purposes.”

  • The winter was quite mild: virtually all of my roses have survived.

Using literally for emphasis with the loose meaning of “virtually” or “almost” is not recommended.

  • Incorrect: I literally died laughing when I heard that joke.  
  • Correct: I almost died laughing when I heard that joke.