lit·​er·​ary ˈli-tə-ˌrer-ē How to pronounce literary (audio)
: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of humane learning or literature
a literary education
a literary institution
: bookish sense 2
an essay written in a very literary style
: of or relating to books
a literary agent
a literary manuscript
: well-read
he is literary, given to quoting to himself rather long stretches of remembered linesF. J. Hoffman
: of or relating to authors or scholars or to their professions
her literary biographies
literarily adverb
literariness noun

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Cecchi-Azzolina, by contrast, has transformed the space into a Hollywood vision of an important literary haunt. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, 10 Sep. 2023 Indie bookstores also give back to schools, support local libraries, and offer in person, fun, educational, literary events. Novel Neighbor, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2023 American Fiction begins with Monk, a college professor, teaching a class about America’s literary greats. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Sep. 2023 The nearly 1,000-page result, published by Ecco in 2003 with a laudatory introduction by the literary critic Harold Bloom, consumed two years of her working life and was widely regarded as a masterpiece. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 The heat over the Autostraddle acquisition reminds me of a recent $10,000 grant awarded to Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal that has been publishing (and expanding) since 1976. Sara Youngblood Gregory, The New Republic, 7 Sep. 2023 Second-floor offerings include - but definitely are not limited to - literary criticism. Karen Sandstrom, cleveland, 1 Sep. 2023 Even without that cinematic component, though, Curtis would rank as a seminal figure in Portland’s literary and cultural scene, a constant lifeline to a countercultural past and an unflagging inspiration to generations of writers and artists. Marc Mohan | , oregonlive, 29 Aug. 2023 But unlike the best sellers and movies about the American frontier, his novels attracted little attention beyond few enthusiastic literary critics. Constant Méheut, New York Times, 28 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'literary.' 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

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of literary was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near literary

Cite this Entry

“Literary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


lit·​er·​ary ˈlit-ə-ˌrer-ē How to pronounce literary (audio)
: of or relating to literature
: of or relating to writers or writing as a profession

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