lit·​er·​al·​ism ˈli-t(ə-)rə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce literalism (audio)
: adherence to the explicit substance of an idea or expression
biblical literalism
: fidelity to observable fact : realism
literalist noun
literalistic 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 Together, the films also prove that literalism isn’t always required in stories that impart messy truths about humanity. Esther Zuckerman, New York Times, 26 Jan. 2024 The Biblical literalism question points to the answer: non-fundamentalist Christians have shifted toward evolution over the years. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 6 Apr. 2012 The silhouette, the outline, and the shadow were, as the anthology’s editors indicate, crucial tools in this arsenal of suggestion—visual forms quite outside the usual repertoire of Pop art, which depended on an arch literalism for its effects. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2023 Dystopian literalism bleeds into all the proceedings here, moving like a wheel within a wheel. Rob Weinert-Kendt, Vulture, 20 Oct. 2022 Artistic license met biblical literalism, an awkward compromise was reached, but prominent Christian activists will still probably leave disappointed and the controversy will go on. Kyle Hill, Discover Magazine, 28 Mar. 2014 But as there is a push for greater casting freedoms in some areas, there is an argument for more literalism in others, especially from actors with certain backgrounds who lack opportunities. New York Times, 28 July 2022 Meanwhile, Wilde’s direction manages to be simultaneously overheated and pedestrian, resorting to blunt-force literalism in moments that call for Hitchcockian finesse. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2022 Whose happiness is prioritized in a family? — capture both kid-brain literalism and the bigger, harder questions of growing up. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, 28 July 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'literalism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of literalism was in 1644

Dictionary Entries Near literalism

Cite this Entry

“Literalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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