[ lit-er-uhl ]
/ ˈlɪt ər əl /
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in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word.
following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation of Goethe.
true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
(of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic.
of or relating to the letters of the alphabet.
of the nature of letters.
expressed by letters.
affecting a letter or letters: a literal error.
a typographical error, especially involving a single letter.
OTHER WORDS FOR literal
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OTHER WORDS FROM literal
lit·er·al·ness, nounnon·lit·er·al, adjectivenon·lit·er·al·ly, adverbnon·lit·er·al·ness, noun
o·ver·lit·er·al, adjectiveun·lit·er·al, adjectiveun·lit·er·al·ly, adverb
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH literalliteral , littoral
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use literal in a sentence
And it might mean something quite non-literal to the people who spoke it.Check and Checkmate|Walter Miller
British Dictionary definitions for literal
/ (ˈlɪtərəl) /
in exact accordance with or limited to the primary or explicit meaning of a word or text
word for word
dull, factual, or prosaic
consisting of, concerning, or indicated by letters
maths containing or using coefficients and constants represented by letters: ax² + b is a literal expressionCompare numerical (def. 3a)
Also called: literal error a misprint or misspelling in a text
Derived forms of literalliteralness or literality (ˌlɪtəˈrælɪtɪ), noun
Word Origin for literal
C14: from Late Latin litterālis concerning letters, from Latin littera 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