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illiterate

[ih-lit-er-it] /ɪˈlɪt ər ɪt/
adjective
1.
unable to read and write:
an illiterate group.
2.
having or demonstrating very little or no education.
3.
showing lack of culture, especially in language and literature.
4.
displaying a marked lack of knowledge in a particular field:
He is musically illiterate.
noun
5.
an illiterate person.
Origin of illiterate
1550-1560
First recorded in 1550-60, illiterate is from the Latin word illiterātus unlettered. See il-2, literate
Related forms
illiterately, adverb
illiterateness, noun
semi-illiterate, adjective
semi-illiterately, adverb
semi-illiterateness, noun
Can be confused
illegible, illiterate, unreadable.
illiterate, innumerate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for illiterate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Look at the comparative returns of the illiterate electorate.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • The watchman of this secret chamber was an illiterate, deaf and dumb peasant.

    The Minister of Evil William Le Queux
  • In spite of his lack of University training he was no illiterate ignoramus.

  • He bridled up at the word "illiterate," and repudiated the vile insinuation.

    My New Curate P.A. Sheehan
  • We find Oxford so illiterate, that she could not even provide an University preacher!

    Oxford Andrew Lang
British Dictionary definitions for illiterate

illiterate

/ɪˈlɪtərɪt/
adjective
1.
unable to read and write
2.
violating accepted standards in reading and writing: an illiterate scrawl
3.
uneducated, ignorant, or uncultured: scientifically illiterate
noun
4.
an illiterate person
Derived Forms
illiteracy, illiterateness, noun
illiterately, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for illiterate
adj.

early 15c., "uneducated, unable to read (originally of Latin)," from Latin illiteratus "unlearned, unlettered, ignorant; without culture, inelegant," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + literatus, literally "furnished with letters" (see literate). As a noun meaning "illiterate person" from 1620s. Hence, illiterati (1788).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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