il·​lit·​er·​a·​cy | \ (ˌ)i(l)-ˈli-t(ə-)rə-sē How to pronounce illiteracy (audio) \
plural illiteracies

Definition of illiteracy

1 : the quality or state of being illiterate especially : inability to read or write
2 : a mistake or crudity (as in speaking) typical of one who is illiterate

Synonyms & Antonyms for illiteracy



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Examples of illiteracy in a Sentence

the government's efforts to reduce illiteracy His letters contain many misspellings and illiteracies.
Recent Examples on the Web However, for governments to attempt to force through the adoption of these vehicles combines hubris with economic illiteracy, two flaws traditionally associated with exercises in central planning such as this. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 1 July 2022 Many beneficiaries of this initiative include individuals who are homeless, cannot read their parking or traffic tickets because of illiteracy, who have been incarcerated, Woodfin said. al, 22 Mar. 2022 The project was inspired by Parton's father's illiteracy. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, 9 Feb. 2022 Yet so many Americans outside his community would insist race is the root of its poverty, illiteracy and violence. Jack Durschlag, Fox News, 10 Feb. 2022 Blame economic illiteracy for policies that target oil and gas companies but hurt everyone else. Mario Loyola, National Review, 17 Mar. 2022 First, the economic illiteracy of many government leaders. WSJ, 18 Jan. 2022 Overall, Oaxaca has 2nd highest illiteracy rate in Mexico, trailing only Chiapas. Nathaniel Parish Flannery, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 In this cultural panic, many intellectuals were ashamed of the poverty and the illiteracy of the rural population, and of the weakness of a decadent and hidebound imperial élite. Ian Buruma, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illiteracy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of illiteracy

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of illiteracy was in 1660

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Illiteracy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for illiteracy


il·​lit·​er·​a·​cy | \ i-ˈli-tə-rə-sē How to pronounce illiteracy (audio) \

Kids Definition of illiteracy

: the state or condition of being unable to read or write

More from Merriam-Webster on illiteracy

Nglish: Translation of illiteracy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of illiteracy for Arabic Speakers


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