a person who can read and write.
a learned person.

Origin of literate

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin līterātus, litterātus learned, scholarly. See letter1, -ate1
Related formslit·er·ate·ly, adverban·ti·lit·er·ate, adjective, nounan·ti·lit·er·ate·ly, adverbun·lit·er·ate, adjective

Synonyms for literate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unliterate

Historical Examples of unliterate

  • The literary critic, Francis Hackett, somewhere speaks of "the enormous gap between the literate and unliterate American."

    The American Language

    Henry L. Mencken

British Dictionary definitions for unliterate



able to read and write
educated; learned
used to words rather than numbers as a means of expressionCompare numerate


a literate person
Derived Formsliterately, adverb

Word Origin for literate

C15: from Latin litterātus learned. 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 unliterate



"educated, instructed," early 15c., from Latin literatus/litteratus "educated, learned," literally "one who knows the letters," formed in imitation of Greek grammatikos from Latin littera/litera "letter" (see letter (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper