lit·​er·​a·​cy | \ˈli-t(ə-)rə-sē \

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

For The Needy donations helped Atlantic Street Center support 167 children get ready to start school with pre-literacy programs. Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times, "The power of readers’ generosity: The Seattle Times kicks off latest Fund For the Needy," 19 Nov. 2018 Daniel Funke reports: The research projects were selected from more than 600 proposals and will investigate misinformation in four key areas, including digital literacy and election misinformation. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Amazon’s HQ2 stunt could come back to haunt it," 14 Nov. 2018 Classes are often divided by age, offering courses to teens and adults to better account for their relative learning levels, and some libraries even offer courses aimed at young children to encourage literacy and necessary math skills. Kim Komando, Fox News, "11 amazing perks you get from your local library you never knew before now," 25 Aug. 2018 The wives’s bid to stand for women’s literacy is made, not in the name of women’s rights, but for the sake of religious education. Rena Gross, Billboard, "'The Handmaid's Tale': Season 2, Episode 13 Recap: 19 Startling Moments in 'The Word'," 11 July 2018 The youth-care worker, who earns $15.22 an hour, is required to have a high-school diploma or GED, experience working with youth, computer literacy and a flexible work schedule. Pamela Ren Larson, azcentral, "Family separations: We talked to 3 people who wanted to work at a child shelter in Mesa," 20 June 2018 Images of violence have both proliferated and mutated, demanding new forms of image literacy. New York Times, "What Does It Mean to Look at This?," 24 May 2018 But to my mind, Barbara Bush's promotion of literacy is perhaps the most enduring of all. CBS News, "Barbara Bush's classic commencement speech at Wellesley," 22 Apr. 2018 Laura Bush advocated for education and literacy and used her foreign trips to talk about HIV/AIDS. Kristine Phillips, Washington Post, "Melania Trump met the press (sort of). Eleanor Roosevelt started the tradition for first ladies.," 7 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

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for literacy

The first known use of literacy was in 1880

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More Definitions for literacy



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).


living or existing for a long time

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