literature

[lit-er-uh-cher, -choo r, li-truh-]
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noun


Origin of literature

1375–1425; late Middle English litterature < Latin litterātūra grammar. See literate, -ure
Related formspre·lit·er·a·ture, noun

Synonyms for literature

1. Literature, belles-lettres, letters refer to artistic writings worthy of being remembered. In the broadest sense, literature includes any type of writings on any subject: the literature of medicine; usually, however, it means the body of artistic writings of a country or period that are characterized by beauty of expression and form and by universality of intellectual and emotional appeal: English literature of the 16th century. Belles-lettres is a more specific term for writings of a light, elegant, or excessively refined character: His talent is not for scholarship but for belles-lettres. Letters (rare today outside of certain fixed phrases) refers to literature as a domain of study or creation: a man of letters.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for literatures

Contemporary Examples of literatures

Historical Examples of literatures

  • The religions and literatures of the world will be open books, which he who wills may read.

  • The literatures of Europe, America, or Asia are an open book for him.

    Life Immovable

    Kostes Palamas

  • They have a share in the development of all Romance languages and literatures.

  • No, we must expect a continual divergence in our literatures.

  • New countries, languages, and literatures were brought into its view.

    Vie de Bohme

    Orlo Williams


British Dictionary definitions for literatures

literature

noun

written material such as poetry, novels, essays, etc, esp works of imagination characterized by excellence of style and expression and by themes of general or enduring interest
the body of written work of a particular culture or peopleScandinavian literature
written or printed matter of a particular type or on a particular subjectscientific literature; the literature of the violin
printed material giving a particular type of informationsales literature
the art or profession of a writer
obsolete learning

Word Origin for literature

C14: from Latin litterātūra 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 literatures

literature

n.

late 14c., from Latin literatura/litteratura "learning, a writing, grammar," originally "writing formed with letters," from litera/littera "letter" (see letter (n.1)). Originally "book learning" (it replaced Old English boccræft), the meaning "literary production or work" is first attested 1779 in Johnson's "Lives of the English Poets" (he didn't include this definition in his dictionary, however); that of "body of writings from a period or people" is first recorded 1812.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Reading"]

Meaning "the whole of the writing on a particular subject" is from 1860; sense of "printed matter generally" is from 1895. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish literatura, Italian letteratura, German Literatur.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper