The 5 Words We Overuse That Mean Something Different Than What We Think

March 16, 2020

We all have words that we tend to overuse in our daily conversations, but have you ever stopped to think about the true meaning behind them? As it turns out, some of these commonly used words actually have a different definition than what we may think. In this blog post, we will uncover the hidden meanings behind five of the most frequently used words: “actually,” “like,” “literally,” “totally,” and even “I’m sorry.” So let’s dive into these linguistic twists and learn something new together!

The 5 Words We Overuse That Mean Something Different Than What We Think

1. Actually

“Actually” is a word that we often use to emphasize a point or clarify a misunderstanding. However, its true meaning is quite different from what we may think. In fact, “actually” is more closely related to the idea of correcting someone’s misconceptions or assumptions.

When we say “actually,” what we’re really doing is pointing out an error in someone’s thinking. This can come across as confrontational or argumentative if not used properly. It’s important to remember that saying “actually” too much may indicate you’re being pedantic and irritating.

Additionally, using the term “actually” can also be seen as a way for people to assert their intellectual superiority over others by constantly correcting them.

While it’s okay to use the word “actually” from time to time when clarifying information, it’s important to be mindful of how frequently you use it and whether it comes off as condescending or corrects erroneous statements only

2. Like

Like is one of the most overused words in our everyday language. It’s often inserted into sentences where it doesn’t belong, and can completely change the meaning of what we’re trying to say. So, what does “like” actually mean?

Firstly, like can be used as a verb to express enjoyment or appreciation for something. For example, “I really like this coffee shop.” However, when used excessively in casual conversation, like becomes filler and adds no value to the sentence.

Another use of like is as a comparison word. We use it when we want to compare two things that are similar. For instance: “She sings like an angel.” In this case, “like” tells us that her singing resembles how an angel would sing.

However, many people also use “like” as a way to soften their language or tone down their opinions. This usage is not always effective because it makes your statement appear weak and hesitant.

While “like” has its uses in English grammar and syntax; using it too much can make anyone sound unprofessional or uncertain about what they’re saying.

3. Literally

Let’s talk about the word “literally”. It’s a term that we use so often, and yet it doesn’t always mean what we think it means. In fact, many of us misuse this word on a daily basis.

The true definition of “literally” is to express something in a literal sense or manner, without exaggeration or metaphor. For example, if someone says “I literally ran a marathon”, they mean that they actually physically completed 26.2 miles on foot.

However, more often than not, we use the word “literally” as an intensifier to emphasize something figuratively. For instance, when someone says “I was literally dying of laughter”, they don’t actually mean that their life was in danger due to laughing too hard; rather, they are emphasizing how funny something was.

This misuse has become so widespread that dictionaries have even added this informal usage as an alternative meaning for the word. While language does evolve over time and new meanings do emerge from common usage patterns like these, purists tend to view this change with some degree of concern.

So next time you’re tempted to use the term “literally,” consider whether you really need it and whether there might be better words out there that would more accurately convey your intended meaning!

4. Totally

Totally is a word that we often use to express complete agreement or confirmation. However, it can also mean something quite different than what we think. In fact, many times when we say “totally”, we actually mean something less than total.

For example, when someone says “I totally forgot about our meeting,” they may not have completely forgotten but simply failed to remember until reminded. Similarly, if someone exclaims “That movie was totally amazing!” they may have enjoyed it but perhaps not truly found it astonishing.

Sometimes using the word “totally” can even be misleading and inaccurate. For instance, if you say “I’m totally fine” when you’re really not feeling well at all or if you declare that a situation is “totally hopeless” without considering any other options or solutions.

While the word “totally” might seem like an easy way to emphasize your point or show agreement with someone else’s statement; it’s important to use this word with caution and consider whether its true meaning aligns with what you’re trying to communicate.

5. I’m sorry

“I’m sorry” – three simple words that we often take for granted. We use them so frequently, and sometimes even flippantly, that their true meaning gets lost in translation. Saying “I’m sorry” has become a reflex action for many of us, used as an easy way out of tricky situations or to show empathy without really meaning it.

But what does it really mean to say “I’m sorry”? It means taking responsibility for our actions and acknowledging the hurt or harm caused by them. It requires humility, vulnerability and the willingness to make amends.

Unfortunately, saying “I’m sorry” is not enough on its own; actions need to follow those words. A genuine apology involves making efforts to right any wrongs committed, whether through restitution or simply changing our behaviour going forward.

In some cultures, apologizing is seen as a sign of weakness or admitting fault when blame should be shared equally among all parties involved. However, apologizing can actually demonstrate strength and maturity by owning up to mistakes instead of deflecting blame onto others.

Ultimately, saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t magically make everything okay again. But if done with sincerity and followed up with appropriate actions, it can go a long way towards repairing damaged relationships and showing others that we value them enough to admit when we’re wrong.

The true meaning of these words

Have you ever said a word and realized later that it didn’t quite convey what you meant? Or have you heard someone use a word in a way that seemed off to you? It’s not uncommon for words to take on different meanings over time, or for people to use them incorrectly. Here are the true meanings of five common words we often misuse:

Actually: This one is tricky because we do use “actually” correctly most of the time. However, sometimes when we say “actually,” what we really mean is “surprisingly.” For example, if someone says “I actually enjoyed that movie,” they might be implying that they were expecting not to.

Like: We all know this one – “like” has become an all-purpose filler word used in conversation. However, it can also be used as a hedge – something people say when they’re unsure about their own statement. For example, “I think he’s like 30 years old?”

Literally: This is probably the most commonly misused word on this list. When we say something like “I literally died laughing,” obviously no one actually died – but using the word emphasizes how funny something was. In reality, though, using literally should only be done when there is no exaggeration happening.

Totally: Like “like,” this one has become more of a filler than anything else. But its original meaning was more along the lines of complete agreement or commitment – so saying things like “Oh I’m totally going to make it” carries more weight than just saying “I’ll try.”

I’m sorry: While apologizing seems straightforward enough (just say sorry!), it’s worth noting that sometimes people apologize without taking responsibility – which isn’t really an apology at all! Saying things like “sorry if I upset you” shifts blame onto the other person rather than acknowledging your own actions or words.

By understanding these nuances in language usage ,we can communicate more effectively and avoid misunderstandings.


It is important to be mindful of the words we use and their true meanings. The five words mentioned in this article are just a few examples of commonly overused words that can lead to miscommunication or misunderstanding.

By understanding the true meanings behind these words, we can better communicate our thoughts and intentions with others. It’s also important to remember that language is constantly evolving, so it’s always a good idea to stay informed on any changes or updates in the way certain words are used.

So next time you catch yourself using one of these five overused words, take a moment to consider if you’re really conveying what you mean. By being more conscious of our language use, we can improve our communication skills and avoid any confusion or misunderstandings down the line.

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About the author 

Rayverend Zooper

As a humble servant of the Cosmic Crucible, I, Rayverend Zooper, have dedicated my life to fostering harmony and understanding among all living beings. Guided by the wisdom of interconnectedness and the power of individual action, I strive to alleviate suffering and promote the inherent goodness of humanity. Through acts of kindness, okay that's enough.

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