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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from literary

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for literary



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Arizona, for instance, used a literary test for voter registration for decades – until the early 1970s. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court to debate voting rights case that advocates worry will limit access to polls," 1 Mar. 2021 Novelist Joanna Rakoff spent a year in the nineties working at a literary agency. Keith Phipps, Rolling Stone, "What to Watch in March: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong,’ New MCU Series and Prince Akeem Returns to America," 28 Feb. 2021 The literary gladiators are: Thrity Umrigar, Donna Seaman, Mary Bly, Anne Bogel and Andromeda Romano-Lax. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "Local cancer survivor to appear in national awareness campaign: Strong Points," 26 Feb. 2021 The River Bend Book Shop continues the literary conversation on Zoom with three author events in March and April., "Community news for the Glastonbury edition," 26 Feb. 2021 The Write Place in 1993 as an alternative to the Loft, according to the Minnesota Historical Society, making literary arts accessible to a diverse community. Jenna Ross, Star Tribune, "With a grand opening this week, Black Table Arts, a hub for artists, celebrates a permanent home," 25 Feb. 2021 When Baldwin also moved to Paris, Wright introduced him to the influential editors at the new literary magazine Zero. New York Times, "The People James Baldwin Knew," 11 Dec. 2020 Almost one year after her brother Ronan blew up the best-seller list with Catch and Kill, Dylan Farrow is making her literary debut, but in a completely different arena: YA fantasy. Mary Sollosi,, "Dylan Farrow on writing her debut YA novel Hush, a fantasy for 2020," 12 Oct. 2020 Oyler, 30, occupies a position both inside and outside the literary world: at its top tables, but not always enjoying the food. Clare Bucknell, WSJ, "Meet Critic Lauren Oyler: The Literary World’s Provocateur Releases a Debut Novel," 20 Jan. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of literary

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about literary

Time Traveler for literary

Time Traveler

The first known use of literary was in 1605

See more words from the same year

Statistics for literary

Last Updated

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Literary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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