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Related to literal: Literal language


1. Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words.
2. Word for word; verbatim: a literal translation.
3. Avoiding exaggeration, metaphor, or embellishment; factual; prosaic: a literal description; a literal mind.
4. Consisting of, using, or expressed by letters: literal notation.
n. Computers
A letter or symbol that stands for itself as opposed to a feature, function, or entity associated with it in a programming language: $ can be a symbol that refers to the end of a line, but as a literal, it is a dollar sign.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin litterālis, of letters, from Latin littera, lītera, letter; see letter.]

lit′er·al·ness n.


1. in exact accordance with or limited to the primary or explicit meaning of a word or text
2. word for word
3. dull, factual, or prosaic
4. consisting of, concerning, or indicated by letters
5. true; actual
6. (Mathematics) maths containing or using coefficients and constants represented by letters: ax2 + b is a literal expression. Compare numerical3a
(Literary & Literary Critical Terms) Also called: literal error a misprint or misspelling in a text
[C14: from Late Latin litterālis concerning letters, from Latin littera letter]
ˈliteralness, literality n


(ˈlɪt ər əl)

1. in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of a word or words; not figurative or metaphorical.
2. following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation.
3. true to fact; unembellished; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
4. being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
5. tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way.
6. of, pertaining to, or expressed by the letters of the alphabet.
7. affecting a letter or letters: a literal error.
8. a typographical error, esp. involving a single letter.
[1350–1400; < Late Latin litterālis of letters. See letter, -al1]
lit′er•al•ness, n.


1. 'literal'

The literal meaning of a word is its most basic meaning.

She was older than I was, and not only in the literal sense.
The literal meaning of the Greek word hamartia, translated as sin, is 'missing the mark'.
2. 'literary'

Literary words and expressions are used to create a special effect in poems or novels, and are not usually used in ordinary speech or writing.

'Awaken' and 'waken' are old-fashioned or literary words.

Literary also means 'connected with literature'.

...literary critics.
...literary magazines.
3. 'literate'

A literate person is able to read and write.

Only half the children are literate.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.literal - a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical failures of some kindliteral - a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical failures of some kind
mistake, error - part of a statement that is not correct; "the book was full of errors"
Adj.1.literal - being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of somethingliteral - being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something; "her actual motive"; "a literal solitude like a desert"- G.K.Chesterton; "a genuine dilemma"
true - consistent with fact or reality; not false; "the story is true"; "it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true"- B. Russell; "the true meaning of the statement"
2.literal - without interpretation or embellishment; "a literal depiction of the scene before him"
exact - marked by strict and particular and complete accordance with fact; "an exact mind"; "an exact copy"; "hit the exact center of the target"
3.literal - limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text; "a literal translation"
exact - marked by strict and particular and complete accordance with fact; "an exact mind"; "an exact copy"; "hit the exact center of the target"
unrhetorical - not rhetorical
figurative, nonliteral - (used of the meanings of words or text) not literal; using figures of speech; "figurative language"
4.literal - avoiding embellishment or exaggeration (used for emphasis); "it's the literal truth"
plain - not elaborate or elaborated; simple; "plain food"; "stuck to the plain facts"; "a plain blue suit"; "a plain rectangular brick building"


1. exact, close, strict, accurate, faithful, verbatim, word for word a literal translation
3. actual, real, true, simple, plain, genuine, gospel, bona fide, unvarnished, unexaggerated He was saying no more than the literal truth.


Employing the very same words as another:
حَرْفيحَرْفي الفَهْم أو التَّرْجَمَه
asılgerçekkelimesi kelimesinesözlük anlamı


1. [sense, translation] → literal
they follow a literal interpretation of the Biblesiguen la Biblia al pie de la letra
to be literal about sthtomar algo al pie de la letra
he's a very literal persones una persona que todo se lo toma al pie de la letra
see also literal-minded
2. (as intensifier) a literal factun hecho real
the literal truthla pura verdad
B. N (Typ) → errata f


[ˈlɪtərəl] adj [sense, meaning, translation] → littéral(e)


(esp Typ) literal errorSchreib-/Tipp-/Druckfehler m
translation, meaning, sensewörtlich; in the literal sense (of the word)im wörtlichen Sinne
(= real) that is the literal truthdas ist die reine Wahrheit; it was a literal disasteres war im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes eine Katastrophe; the literal impossibility of working theredie völlige or buchstäbliche Unmöglichkeit, dort zu arbeiten
(= prosaic)nüchtern, prosaisch; he has a very literal mind or is very literal-mindeder denkt sehr nüchtern, er ist sehr prosaisch
nSchreib-/Tipp-/Druckfehler m


1. adj (meaning, translation) → letterale; (account) → testuale; (person) → prosaico/a
2. n (Brit) (Typ) → refuso


(ˈlitərəl) adjective
1. following the exact meaning with no exaggeration. the literal truth.
2. understanding the meaning by taking one word at a time. a literal translation.
ˈliteralness noun
ˈliterally adverb
We had literally a minute to catch the train.
References in classic literature ?
As this work professes, in its title-page, to be a descriptive tale, they who will take the trouble to read it may be glad to know how much of its contents is literal fact, and how much is intended to represent a general picture.
The dissertations are the only part in which an exact translation has been attempted, and even in those abstracts are sometimes given instead of literal quotations, particularly in the first; and sometimes other parts have been contracted.
The allusion in the Crito may, perhaps, be adduced as a further evidence of the literal accuracy of some parts.
You might almost say, that this strange uncompromisedness in him involved a sort of unintelligence; for in his numerous trades, he did not seem to work so much by reason or by instinct, or simply because he had been tutored to it, or by any intermixture of all these, even or uneven; but merely by a kind of deaf and dumb, spontaneous literal process.
When I say petticoat, I use the word in its literal sense, not colloquially as a metaphor for its usual wearer, meaning thereby a dainty feminine undergarment seen only by men on rainy days, and one might add washing-days.
I don't mean to say that I ever saw Captain MacWhirr in the flesh, or had ever come in contact with his literal mind and his dauntless temperament.
This would be to admit that they might be kept up IN TIME OF PEACE, against threatening or impending danger, which would be at once to deviate from the literal meaning of the prohibition, and to introduce an extensive latitude of construction.
Moreover a blunt and stolid regard for literal truth indisposes them to make those lavish promises by which the more judicious Circle can in a moment pacify his consort.
Why -- why -- yes, I like him, of course," gasped Anne, wondering if she were telling the literal truth.
Tisn't in mine head, it's in mine mouf," answered literal Demi, putting out his tongue, with a chocolate drop on it, thinking she alluded to confectionery, not ideas.
They believed in present miracles, in instantaneous conversions, in revelations by dreams and visions; they drew lots, and sought for Divine guidance by opening the Bible at hazard; having a literal way of interpreting the Scriptures, which is not at all sanctioned by approved commentators; and it is impossibie for me to represent their diction as correct, or their instruction as liberal.
But I hold that Christians are freed from the literal observance of the Fourth Commandment.