If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?
Ban is such a strong word! As is permanent.
That said, I would strongly* encourage using the word “literally” sparingly. It’s not for emphasis folks!
You’re not “literally melting from the hot weather” unless some kind of cellular decomposition is occurring and you see a piece of your arm or other body part, in liquid form, dripping onto the asphalt in front of you (I would strongly advise at this point, that you go to the nearest hospital, preferably one with a human fridge).
You’re not “literally pissed off” unless someone or something is deflecting urine off of you.
But you’ll be happy to know that you are probably literally dying. Most of us are. Sorry, too morbid too soon?
One method I use whenever I’m confused regarding the use of “literally” (which I am often) is to imagine the figurative alternative:
“We slept together, literally, as in slumbered on the same bed.”
“We slept together, figuratively, as in had sexual intercourse, and then slept together literally, because sex is tiring, yo!”
I know I risk coming off like a snooty jackass in this post, but literally is too fun a word to not advocate for. It makes for a great zinger and adds humour to a situation, which is why I would never ban it! But I do implore, beseech, and literally beg (just kidding!) those of us who are cavalier with this word to consider using it more sparingly.
*Strongly is too strange-sounding to be considered a strong word and be taken seriously in my books. Truth.