[lit-er-uh-liz-uh m]


adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense, as in translation or interpretation: to interpret the law with uncompromising literalism.
a peculiarity of expression resulting from this: The work is studded with these obtuse literalisms.
exact representation or portrayal, without idealization, as in art or literature: a literalism more appropriate to journalism than to the novel.

Nearby words

  1. literacy hour,
  2. literacy test,
  3. literae humaniores,
  4. literal,
  5. literal-minded,
  6. literalist,
  7. literality,
  8. literalize,
  9. literally,
  10. literary

Origin of literalism

First recorded in 1635–45; literal + -ism

Related formslit·er·al·ist, nounlit·er·al·is·tic, adjectivelit·er·al·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for literalism

British Dictionary definitions for literalism



the disposition to take words and statements in their literal sense
literal or realistic portrayal in art or literature
Derived Formsliteralist, nounliteralistic, adjectiveliteralistically, 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