Question for you word-conscious writers out there: what do you do with a word that you use in its original/literal sense, that has been co-opted by popular vernacular into a different meaning?
I am thinking here of “literally.” that word has, to my mind, gone rogue and become an unpredictable menace to clear communication.
I do not use it figuratively, in the sarcastic exaggeration sense, and never have. I literally use it literally…so how do I make that clear if I use it thusly in writing, either in my authorial narrative or via a character’s dialogue? Is the context still going to be enough to clarify matters, or has the word been so thoroughly subverted that it must be consigned to the “miscue” bin and abandoned from my lexicon?
I do not think I have yet had occasion for this question, probably because there are few times I would need that word in fiction. I mean, if the author simply states “he jumped five feet up” there is no need to qualify the statement with “literally.” But I dislike the thought of losing a word of my vocabulary because I would use it in a way that might create ambiguity in my writing.