[ ih-lit-er-it ]
See synonyms for: illiterateilliteratesilliterateness on

  1. unable to read and write: an illiterate group.

  2. having or demonstrating very little or no education.

  1. showing lack of culture, especially in language and literature.

  2. displaying a marked lack of knowledge in a particular field: He is musically illiterate.

  1. an illiterate person.

Origin of illiterate

First recorded in 1550–60, illiterate is from the Latin word illiterātus unlettered. See il-2, literate

synonym study For illiterate

1. See ignorant.

Other words from illiterate

  • il·lit·er·ate·ly, adverb
  • il·lit·er·ate·ness, noun
  • sem·i-il·lit·er·ate, adjective
  • sem·i-il·lit·er·ate·ly, adverb
  • sem·i-il·lit·er·ate·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with illiterate

Words Nearby illiterate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use illiterate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for illiterate


/ (ɪˈlɪtərɪt) /

  1. unable to read and write

  2. violating accepted standards in reading and writing: an illiterate scrawl

  1. uneducated, ignorant, or uncultured: scientifically illiterate

  1. an illiterate person

Derived forms of illiterate

  • illiteracy or 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