[ lit-er-uh-liz-uh m ]
/ ˈlɪt ər əˌlɪz əm /


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.

Origin of literalism

First recorded in 1635–45; literal + -ism

Related forms

lit·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 literalistic

British Dictionary definitions for literalistic


/ (ˈlɪtərəˌlɪzəm) /


the disposition to take words and statements in their literal sense
literal or realistic portrayal in art or literature

Derived Forms

literalist, 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