lit·​er·​al·​ism | \ ˈli-t(ə-)rə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce literalism (audio) \

Definition of literalism

1 : adherence to the explicit substance of an idea or expression biblical literalism
2 : fidelity to observable fact : realism

Other Words from literalism

literalist \ ˈli-​t(ə-​)rə-​list How to pronounce literalism (audio) \ noun
literalistic \ ˌli-​t(ə-​)rə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce literalism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of literalism in a Sentence

if audiences ever got the literalism they claim they want in movies, they'd be fast asleep by the second reel
Recent Examples on the Web In the late 19th century, Christian abolitionists countered the literalism of white supremacists by appealing to the Bible as a whole. The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 July 2022 Lyrically, country music is all about literalism, something that’s rarely been Tweedy’s strong suit. Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone, 27 May 2022 Hansen-Løve is little concerned by literalism, either in the movie’s form or in her characters’ dialogue. Annie Geng, The New Republic, 25 Oct. 2021 It’s through his arc that the literalism of the Mael brothers’ story meets Carax’s expressive urgency—but, rather than augment each other, the two prove mutually inhibiting. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 Religious literalism substitutes certainty for mystery; so does a sudden rupture with the past. Lorraine Berry, Los Angeles Times, 28 June 2021 Yet despite its reliance upon metaphor and genre, it feels predicated upon a kind of moral literalism — or perhaps simply obviousness. New York Times, 20 May 2021 For a new generation of balladeers, this literalism also comes with an emphasis on psychoanalytical problem-solving. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 22 May 2021 Barrett has condemned as a canard the widespread view that textualism is literalism. Ed Whelan, National Review, 1 Oct. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'literalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of literalism

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of literalism was in 1644

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Dictionary Entries Near literalism

literal contract



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Last Updated

23 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Literalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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