[lit-er-uh-liz-uh m]
  1. adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense, as in translation or interpretation: to interpret the law with uncompromising literalism.
  2. a peculiarity of expression resulting from this: The work is studded with these obtuse literalisms.
  3. 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 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for literalistic

Historical Examples of literalistic

British Dictionary definitions for literalistic


  1. the disposition to take words and statements in their literal sense
  2. 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