Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.


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.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.literalness - adhereing to the concrete construal of something
concreteness - the quality of being concrete (not abstract)
szó szerinti
gerçeğe uygun olma


(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 ?
She was a long, lean, pale person, habited apparently in a dull-colored dressing gown, and she spoke with a kind of mild literalness.
Rachel read what she chose, reading with the curious literalness of one to whom written sentences are unfamiliar, and handling words as though they were made of wood, separately of great importance, and possessed of shapes like tables or chairs.
But those same earnest songs composed by musicians Jackson Odell and Brett Boyett bludgeon us with the storys emotions and themes with such ker-thudding literalness, its as if Wolf didnt trust her actors to convey them.
It's hard to know what the concept of literalness means in this context.
For myself, I would certainly agree with David Luke that in translating Faust, "readable prosodic correspondence must be allowed priority over referential literalness.
That vacillation between literalness and illusion--holes in the surfaces or white circles on a blue ground?
The artist uses the body as a kind of tropological platform from which to illuminate these issues in their own complexity and in the imaginal complexity of art, without falling into the prevailing literalness of socially critical art in her country.
Continue reading "Daf Yomi: Debating the Literalness of 'An Eye for an Eye'" at.
While literalness takes a backseat to readability, translators Margaret Graver and A.
97-100) are rather stilted; yet such literalness may be justified, given that they are being used for close analytical readings.
For if the sentence is the wall before the language of the original, literalness (Wortlichkeit) is the arcade.
The overall book title refers briefly to the titles of the three lectures, which are: 1) History of ideas: evolution of consciousness, 2) Modern idolatry: the sin of literalness, and 3) The force of habit.