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

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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 This will go a long way in demystifying periods and in tackling menstruation illiteracy that thrives in a shroud of secrecy and silence. Ciku Kimeria, Quartz Africa, "The story of how Kenyan women are bringing P&G to task over the Always “burning pads” saga," 26 Feb. 2020 Even as the human population has doubled, the likelihood of child mortality, illiteracy and deaths by disease are all at record lows. David Gelles, New York Times, "In Its 50th Year, Davos Is Searching for Its Soul," 19 Jan. 2020 Few errors of punctuation so succinctly reveal the utter illiteracy of the perpetrators. Washington Post, "Gene Weingarten: Pickin’ up where the Apostrophe Protection Society left off," 9 Jan. 2020 Beyond basic technological illiteracy, many doctors and patients are just not good on a phone or webcam. Robert Lurvey, Wired, "That Weird Pain in Your Nuts and the Limits of Telemedicine," 8 Apr. 2020 His contribution toward the endemic problems that Egypt suffers from, like illiteracy, poverty and disease, was minimal. Michael Slackman, New York Times, "Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Leader Ousted in Arab Spring, Dies at 91," 25 Feb. 2020 Just a guess here, but maybe your granny would rather expose herself to a deadly virus than admit to her Internet illiteracy. Courtney Shea,, "How To Convince Your Family To Take Coronavirus Seriously," 26 Mar. 2020 The consequences of illiteracy for an individual are lower income, lower self-esteem, and a life of struggle and misunderstanding. Dallas News, "Teach a child to read and you feed him for a lifetime," 22 Jan. 2020 Crime, poverty and illiteracy have been persistent issues; in 2009 and 2011, Forbes magazine named Stockton one of the country's most miserable cities. USA TODAY, "California city gives residents $500 a month. Is this the future of progressive politics?," 1 Mar. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of illiteracy

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for illiteracy

Time Traveler

The first known use of illiteracy was in 1660

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Statistics for illiteracy

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Illiteracy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce illiteracy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of illiteracy

: the state of not knowing how to read or write
: the state of not having knowledge about a particular subject
: a mistake that is made in the use of language : an illiterate statement or expression


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

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