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Definition of "literal" []

  • Being in accordance with, conforming to, or upholding the exact or primary meaning of a word or words. (adjective)
  • Word for word; verbatim: a literal translation. (adjective)
  • Avoiding exaggeration, metaphor, or embellishment; factual; prosaic: a literal description; a literal mind. (adjective)
  • Consisting of, using, or expressed by letters: literal notation. (adjective)
  • Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words. (adjective)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "literal" in a sentence
  • "The multinational energy and oil giant made the essence of the term literal by turning its exhibition hall on the Olympic Green into a monstrous Chia pet."
  • "‘Lateral thinking’ would be helped, too, by the neural arrangement in the right brain—the sideways extension of axons even makes the phrase literal rather than figurative."
  • "Nevertheless, I'm attracted to the term literal because it leads to another useful concept, "liberal" cartooning."