lit·​er·​a·​cy | \ ˈli-t(ə-)rə-sē How to pronounce literacy (audio) \

Definition of literacy

: the quality or state of being literate a program to promote adult literacy

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Examples of literacy in a Sentence

The program is intended to promote adult literacy among people who have had very little schooling. Their goal is to achieve basic literacy.

Recent Examples on the Web

Nevertheless, New York and New England did establish public schools and libraries, sustain high levels of literacy, produce and publish a great body of literature, and practice direct democracy—all of these characteristically Puritan achievements. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Is Poverty Necessary?," 10 June 2019 In an attempt to educate local individuals in need of financial literacy, West Hartford Social Services is sponsoring its first community resource fair. Tyra Mcclung,, "West Hartford Social Services to host community resource fair," 5 June 2019 Adult literacy rates in Arab countries rose from 55 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2010, while overall rates during this period rose from 89 to 92 percent, according to UNESCO. Miriam Berger, Vox, "Why innovative tech startups are thriving across the Middle East," 1 Oct. 2018 The children argued through their attorneys that literacy is a right under the U.S. Constitution. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Judge dismisses lawsuit against Snyder over Detroit kids' literacy," 29 June 2018 Whidden discusses the change in literacy rates in the past decades. Hal Boedeker,, "Jerry Demings, Dale Whittaker, Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter: Weekend guests," 5 Apr. 2018 The board heard reports on summer school programs and on financial literacy. Laura Groch,, "How they voted, July 1," 1 July 2018 Mr Alvisi, a history teacher by training, has been leading the digital-literacy classes for two years. The Economist, "Russian disinformation distorts American and European democracy," 24 Feb. 2018 While Mad’s satiric legacy endures, the question of whether its educational ethos - - its implicit media literacy efforts – remains part of our youth culture is less clear. Michael J. Socolow, Smithsonian, "In its Heyday, Mad Magazine Was a Lot More Than Silly Jokes," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'literacy.' 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 literacy

1880, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near literacy






literal contract


Statistics for literacy

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for literacy

The first known use of literacy was in 1880

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English Language Learners Definition of literacy

: the ability to read and write
: knowledge that relates to a specified subject

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Comments on literacy

What made you want to look up literacy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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