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1. Adherence to the explicit sense of a given text or doctrine.
2. Literal portrayal; realism.

lit′er·al·ist n.
lit′er·al·is′tic adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. the disposition to take words and statements in their literal sense
2. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) literal or realistic portrayal in art or literature
3. (Art Terms) literal or realistic portrayal in art or literature
ˈliteralist n
ˌliteralˈistic adj
ˌliteralˈistically adv
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈlɪt ər əˌlɪz əm)

1. adherence to the exact letter or to the literal sense, as in translation or interpretation.
2. exact representation or portrayal, without idealization, as in art or literature.
lit′er•al•ist, n.
lit`er•al•is′tic, adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. fundamentalism.
2. Scripturalism. — literalist, n., adj.
See also: Bible
the practice or theory of following the letter or literal sense of something written. — literalist, n.
See also: Alphabet
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.literalism - the doctrine of realistic (literal) portrayal in art or literature
doctrine, ism, philosophical system, philosophy, school of thought - a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school
2.literalism - a disposition to interpret statements in their literal sense
inclination, tendency, disposition - an attitude of mind especially one that favors one alternative over others; "he had an inclination to give up too easily"; "a tendency to be too strict"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
He argues that Razi's rejection of literalism and his multiple borrowings from Avicenna's (988-1037) philosophy are a consequence of a conception of knowledge in which reason plays a decisive role.
Studies in cognitive science typically involve relationships among terms, which Figdor argues is consistent with literalism. Consider the statement "resonator neurons prefer inputs having frequencies that resonate with the frequency of other oscillations." Use of the term "prefer" is not a similarity mapping between neurons and humans but a mapping between what neurons do and what humans do.
His biblical interpretation attracted fierce condemnation from those who wished to conserve the simplistic ignorance of fundamentalist biblical literalism.
Through careful structuring and witty literalism, Moseley has made universal a story so inherently regional, and for that I cannot thank him enough.
One major criticism of biblical literalism is that it does a grave injustice to the Bible itself, as it fails to acknowledge that much of biblical language is manifestly metaphorical.
It has an emphasis on mysticism and purity of heart rather than a fixation with scriptural literalism. It is an open spirituality, borrowing from cultural customs and folklore.
"There was the same literalism, the same passionate intensity, the same apocalyptic violence as now" - Historian David Starkey describing Henry VIII's break with Rome as a "Tudor Brexit".
-- Fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is "the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word," similar to the 26% who view it as "a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man." This is the first time in Gallup's four-decade trend that biblical literalism has not surpassed biblical skepticism.
By answering the religious fundamentalists in their own terms, however, the new atheists have unwittingly adopted many of the faults they criticize, especially hermeneutic literalism. Leon Wieseltier's comment on Daniel Dennett extends to the "new atheism" as a whole: "Like many of the fundamentalists whom he despises, he is a literalist in matters of religion." (1)
The great medieval rabbi, philosopher and physician Maimonides warned against literalism, which, over history, has led to the most barbarous wars.
For a long time now in seminary, the assumption has been that leaders should assume that the first naivete is a dogged, uncritical biblical literalism. The educator's role, therefore, was to break that "naive" viewpoint in order to lead people (and their worshipping communities) to a more nuanced and historical-critical understanding of the Bible.