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literary

[lit-uh-rer-ee]
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adjective
  1. pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature: literary history.
  2. pertaining to authorship: literary style.
  3. versed in or acquainted with literature; well-read.
  4. engaged in or having the profession of literature or writing: a literary man.
  5. characterized by an excessive or affected display of learning; stilted; pedantic.
  6. preferring books to actual experience; bookish.
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Origin of literary

1640–50; < Latin līterārius, litterārius of reading and writing. See letter1, -ary
Related formslit·er·ar·i·ly, adverblit·er·ar·i·ness, nounnon·lit·er·ar·i·ly, adverbnon·lit·er·ar·i·ly·ness, nounnon·lit·er·ar·i·ness, nounnon·lit·er·ar·y, adjectiveo·ver·lit·er·ar·i·ly, adverbo·ver·lit·er·ar·i·ness, nouno·ver·lit·er·ar·y, adjectivepre·lit·er·ar·y, adjectivepseu·do·lit·er·ar·y, adjectivequa·si-lit·er·ar·y, adjectiveun·lit·er·ar·y, adjective

Usage note

In this dictionary, the label Literary is assigned to an entry term or definition that is used rarely in contemporary speech or writing except to create a literary, poetic, or evocative effect.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for literary

literary

adjective
  1. of, relating to, concerned with, or characteristic of literature or scholarly writinga literary discussion; a literary style
  2. versed in or knowledgeable about literaturea literary man
  3. (of a word) formal; not colloquial
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Derived Formsliterarily, adverbliterariness, noun

Word Origin

C17: from Latin litterārius concerning reading and writing. See letter
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

Word Origin and History for literary

adj.

1640s, "pertaining to alphabet letters," from French littéraire, from Latin literarius/litterarius "belonging to letters or learning," from littera/litera "letter" (see letter (n.1)). Meaning "pertaining to literature" is attested from 1737.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper