First, can you admit to watching Borat, the movie starring Sacha Baron Cohen, and finding it hysterically funny? If so, then you will probably remember my favorite scene, when Borat meets with a “humor coach” to learn how to tell a Not Joke. Timing is everything.
This scene always comes to mind when I hear someone misuse the word “literally,” which is surprisingly often. For example, overheard recently at a restaurant: “There are literally infinite good choices on this menu.” “Not,” I want to yell. Why do we say “literally,” when we mean just the opposite? I’ll tell you: because the word “figuratively” is too long and hard to remember…Not.