Definition of literal
- adheres to a literal reading of the passage
- liberty in the literal sense is impossible
- —B. N. Cardozo
- the literal truth
- a very literal man
- The distress signal SOS has no literal meaning.
I was using the word in its literal sense.
The literal meaning of “know your ropes” is “to know a lot about ropes,” while figuratively it means “to know a lot about how to do something.”
a literal translation of a book
The story he told was basically true, even if it wasn't the literal truth.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'literal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
: involving the ordinary or usual meaning of a word
: giving the meaning of each individual word
: completely true and accurate : not exaggerated
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