lit·​er·​ary | \ ˈli-tə-ˌrer-ē How to pronounce literary (audio) \

Definition of literary

1a : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of humane learning or literature a literary education a literary institution
b : bookish sense 2 an essay written in a very literary style
c : of or relating to books a literary agent a literary manuscript
2a : well-read he is literary, given to quoting to himself rather long stretches of remembered lines— F. J. Hoffman
b : of or relating to authors or scholars or to their professions her literary biographies

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Other Words from literary

literarily \ ˌli-​tə-​ˈrer-​ə-​lē How to pronounce literarily (audio) \ adverb
literariness \ ˈli-​tə-​ˌrer-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce literariness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for literary


bookish, erudite, learned


colloquial, nonliterary, unbookish

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Examples of literary in a Sentence

Do his books have any literary merit? Mystery fiction is only one of many literary forms. an essay written in a very literary style The author uses many literary devices in his work. He entered the literary world right out of college. She hired a literary agent.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Her speech, though literary and political in nature, outlines the function of language beyond the boundaries of academia and politics. Syreeta Mcfadden, The Atlantic, "What Toni Morrison Knew About Trump," 13 Aug. 2019 Musicians of all sorts and singers, as well as literary and dramatic presentations are welcome with everyone wishing to be entertained also welcome., "Religion briefs: Prison Ministry holds golf tourney; open mic night; VBS," 2 Aug. 2019 Bérubé, whose worked turned to intellectual disability after his own son was diagnosed with Down syndrome, was a cultural and literary critic with a new lens through which to examine the world. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "A Setback In Flint: RaceAhead," 14 June 2019 Delve into the literary history of Dublin while following in the footsteps of celebrated authors like James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde. National Geographic, "Ireland High School Expedition," 12 June 2019 Founder and president of the City Club of San Diego, Mitrovich organized many forums featuring political and literary figures. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, "George S. Mitrovich, the man who knew everyone, 1935—2019," 25 July 2019 In celebration of the exhibition’s beginning, the Speed Art Museum is partnering with GonzoFest Louisville, the annual literary and music festival honoring Hunter S. Thompson. Speed Art Museum, The Courier-Journal, "This new summer exhibit honors the legacy of Hunter S. Thompson," 8 July 2019 It is divided between artists in the visual and literary arts. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit artists get 'life-changing' $25k grants through Kresge Arts," 19 June 2019 The festival that began Friday and continues through Wednesday honors black civic, artistic and literary excellence, while providing networking opportunities for professionals, artists and activists. Marcus Harrison Green, The Seattle Times, "Festival showcasing excellence declares Seattle’s black community is indeed ‘Out Here’," 15 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'literary.' 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 literary

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for literary

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for literary

The first known use of literary was in 1605

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More Definitions for literary



English Language Learners Definition of literary

: of or relating to literature
: used in literature
: having a lot of knowledge about literature : known for reading or writing books


lit·​er·​ary | \ ˈli-tə-ˌrer-ē How to pronounce literary (audio) \

Kids Definition of literary

: of or relating to literature

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More from Merriam-Webster on literary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for literary

Spanish Central: Translation of literary

Nglish: Translation of literary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of literary for Arabic Speakers

Comments on literary

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


a period when something is suspended

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