Definition of literature
Origin of literature
synonym study for literature
OTHER WORDS FROM literaturepre·lit·er·a·ture, noun
Words nearby literature
MORE ABOUT LITERATURE
What is literature?
Literature is writing that uses artistic expression and form and is considered to have merit or be important.
As an artistic term, literature refers to written works, such as novels, short stories, biographies, memories, essays, and poetry. However, songs, movies, TV shows, video games, and paintings are typically not considered to be literature because the final output is not text.
At the same time, literature is usually thought to only include works of art. Informative works like newspapers, scientific journals, religious texts, press releases, and spreadsheets are generally not considered to be literature.
Yet in scientific study, especially anthropology or history, the word literature is used more broadly to describe everything that a specific society or group has ever written. For example, a researcher may be studying “Persian literature,” which would include even mundane, non-artistic pieces of writing that was created by a citizen of the Persian empire, such as lists of food supplies.
Why is literature important?
The first records of the word literature come from around 1375. It ultimately comes from the Latin litterātūra, meaning “grammar” or “writing.”
What writings are considered literature is often debated. Average readers and literary experts often disagree on what counts as literature. Literary experts also disagree among themselves what is and isn’t literature. Usually, literature is defined as being “of interest” or having importance, which is obviously a subjective quality. Who gets to decide if a piece of writing is important? In the past, the answer was “people who can read.” In your own life, the literature you have studied has most likely been selected by an English teacher or a literature department at a college.
In everyday life, the word literature is most likely to be used when speaking academically or scholastically. Libraries and stores that sell books are less likely to use this broad, unhelpful term and are more likely to categorize written works using more specific words, like poetry, romance, or young adult fiction.
Did you know … ?
The oldest author whose name we know was Enheduanna, a Sumerian princess and high priestess who wrote poetry dedicated to the gods over 4,000 years ago. Her literature is the oldest written work we know of.
What are real-life examples of literature?
People have many different opinions on what kinds of literature they like to read.
Who says great literature is dead? pic.twitter.com/m7yeKBkTxh
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 11, 2018
Reading my twitter feed is still reading so that counts as literature right?
— karlie jones (@__karlie__) March 11, 2013
What other words are related to literature?
Which of the following is NOT considered to be literature?
A. a nature poem
B. a science fiction novel
C. a murder mystery television show
D. a president’s autobiography
How to use literature in a sentence
If you want to understand the flamboyant family of objects that make up our solar system—from puny, sputtering comets to tremendous, ringed planets—you could start by immersing yourself in the technical terms that fill the scientific literature.These Images Expose the Dark Side of the Solar System - Issue 89: The Dark Side|Corey S. Powell|August 26, 2020|Nautilus
Poway Unified anticipates bringing forward two new courses – ethnic studies and ethnic literature – to the school board for review, said Christine Paik, a spokeswoman for the district.As School Resumes, Students Bring Racial Justice Push to the Classroom|Kayla Jimenez|August 18, 2020|Voice of San Diego
The book she completed after that trip, Coming of Age in Samoa, published in 1928, would be hailed as a classic in the literature on sexuality and adolescence.Gender Is What You Make of It - Issue 88: Love & Sex|Charles King|August 5, 2020|Nautilus
He also told Chemistry World he envisages the robots eventually being able to analyze the scientific literature to better guide their experiments.
Research also suggests that reading literature may help increase empathy and understanding of others’ experiences, potentially spurring better real-world behavior.The case for using literature to kickstart conversations about race at work|Sarah Todd|July 12, 2020|Quartz
The research literature, too, asks these questions, and not without reason.How Skinny Is Too Skinny? Israel Bans ‘Underweight’ Models|Carrie Arnold|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
She wanted to know what happened over five years, or even 10, but the scientific literature had little to offer.
The religion shaped all facets of life: art, medicine, literature, and even dynastic politics.The Buddhist Business of Poaching Animals for Good Karma|Brendon Hong|December 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Speaking of the literature you love, the Bloomsbury writers crop up in your collection repeatedly.Daphne Merkin on Lena Dunham, Book Criticism, and Self-Examination|Mindy Farabee|December 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Literature in the 14th century, Strohm points out, was an intimate, interactive affair.A Year In The Life of The Canterbury Tales’ Storied Beginnings|Wendy Smith|December 25, 2014|DAILY BEAST
All along the highways and by-paths of our literature we encounter much that pertains to this "queen of plants."
There cannot be many persons in the world who keep up with the whole range of musical literature as he does.Music-Study in Germany|Amy Fay
In early English literature there was at one time a tendency to ascribe to Solomon various proverbs not in the Bible.Solomon and Solomonic Literature|Moncure Daniel Conway
He was deeply versed in Saxon literature and published a work on the antiquity of the English church.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell
Such unromantic literature as Acts of Parliament had not, it may be supposed, up to this, formed part of my mental pabulum.