literalism

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from literalism

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

Yet even when the pain of censorship and social death surfaces with such violent literalism, nothing comes of it. Merve Emre, The New York Review of Books, "‘Dismembered, Relocated, Rearranged’," 6 June 2019 Or are the critics making that argument engaged in an absurd form of literalism, refusing to recognize ironic discourse even though it’s been repeatedly pointed out to them? Ezra Klein, Vox, "The problem with Twitter, as shown by the Sarah Jeong fracas," 8 Aug. 2018 Beyond the biblical literalism of allied evangelicals, newly sophisticated ways of attacking environmental sciences arose that appealed to doubt and uncertainty, coins of the scientific realm itself. Christopher Sellers, Vox, "How Republicans came to embrace anti-environmentalism," 6 July 2018 The big- city journalists reported that Darrow had revealed Bryan’s ignorance and the absurdity of his biblical literalism. Time Staff, Time, "The 25 Moments From American History That Matter Right Now," 28 June 2018 At that point, the allusions Aster has so tantalizingly built up disintegrate into graphic gore and on-the-nose literalism. Ann Hornaday, kansascity, "In terrifying ‘Hereditary,’ past horrors haunt a dysfunctional family," 7 June 2018 John McDermott's sets and Les Dickert's lighting, while maintaining the minimalist aesthetic that keeps a cool distance from literalism, are colorful and sprightly. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' and Shaw's 'Saint Joan': A marathon for four actors, and the audience," 9 Apr. 2018 And both have been criticized by fundamentalist and other more conservative religious thinkers who accuse them of not hewing to the most stringently doctrinaire biblical literalism. Alex Johnson, NBC News, "Billy Graham: A guidestar for preachers, as well as millions of followers," 2 Mar. 2018 Both rejected modernism in favor of Biblical literalism. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "Billy Graham’s Circus Left Him Behind," 22 Feb. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of literalism

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about literalism

Statistics for literalism

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for literalism

The first known use of literalism was in 1644

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on literalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with literalism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for literalism

Comments on literalism

What made you want to look up literalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!