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

The hymnbooks’ most popular items were anthologized in school readers and spellers, and missionaries and preachers distributed hymnbooks to the poor for the purpose of encouraging literacy. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "‘The Hymnal’ Review: How to Make a Joyful Noise," 23 Dec. 2018 In some places, the local authorities require young adults to complete an internet literacy course to receive welfare benefits, such as a monthly stipend. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why we can’t stop debating whether Facebook sells data," 14 Dec. 2018 After struggling in school, it was discovered that Neil was dyslexic, a realization that helped inspire his mother's work with childhood literacy programs. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How George H.W. Bush's Extraordinary Political Career Shaped His Relationship With His Children," 5 Dec. 2018 Participants in the program are given access to an online financial literacy program with a focus on learning how to save. Emily Williams,, "Boston’s MLK Scholars gather for motivation, celebration," 13 July 2018 This drop-in program is an early literacy program designed for you and your child ages 12 to 24 months. Courant Community, "Community News For The Enfield Edition," 10 July 2018 Also included is a plan for consolidating and streamlining the federal government’s $250 million-plus efforts to provide financial literacy programs in areas such as retirement planning, financial counseling and youth education. Michelle Hackman, WSJ, "Trump Proposes Combining Workforce Training, Welfare Programs in Agency Revamp," 21 June 2018 Freedom Schools is a six-week national literacy program funded by the Children's Defense Fund, said Roni Herndon, program manager for the local Freedom Schools programs at both the John Still and Parkway campuses. Cassie Dickman And Molly Sullivan, sacbee, "Children's book about police shootings comes to schools in Stephon Clark's neighborhood," 19 June 2018 And there's a large classroom and tutoring space to support adult literacy programs and workforce development. Richard Greene, star-telegram, "Arlington is home to nation's newest library," 16 June 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

29 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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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