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Having no written language; preliterate.

non·lit′er·ate n.
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.


not able to read and write
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(nɒnˈlɪt ər ɪt)

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.nonliterate - used of a society that has not developed writing
noncivilised, noncivilized - not having a high state of culture and social development
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The nonliterate aspect of our 'civilization' was conquered, vanquished and thrown aside.
Complex civilizations that use ideographic or syllabary writing rather than alphabets belong, for McLuhan (2002a), in the same "tribal" category as nonliterate societies: "it is by alphabet alone that men have detribalized or individualized themselves into 'civilization'" (pp.
(28.) Edward Muir, Introduction: Observing Trifles, MICROHISTORY AND THE LOST PEOPLES OF EUROPE VII, XIV (Edward Muir and Guido Ruggiero eds., Eren Branch trans., 1991) (noting that "heretics, and criminals are the most likely candidates from the lower or nonliterate classes to leave sufficient traces to become the subjects of microhistories").
In this way, as Abram suggests, the spell of the alphabet replaced the meaning that the native sounds and appearances of the earth conveyed to our nonliterate forebears.
Oral cultures have also been referred to as preliterate and nonliterate, terms that underline what is absent from the society.
The authors also seem to assume that the guilds wrote their own plays and that the manuscripts represent 'some of the earliest works of literature by a largely nonliterate class' (24).
As such, this fourth stage of cognitive development is either entirely absent or only discernible in limited form in nonliterate societies or those that are defined by a slowly developing, traditional culture.
Interview method was employed especially where nonliterate respondents who cannot complete the questionnaire themselves were encountered.
From Percy to Child, ballad editors sought to recover traces of this presumptively pre- or nonliterate national verse from what were viewed as its ruins in archives or the memories of rural singers.
Despite obvious inequalities (with an estimated one billion nonliterate adults worldwide), it seems safe to state that in most cities around the world today there are more people spending more time using more text to do more things in more places.