lit·​er·​ate | \ ˈli-tə-rət How to pronounce literate (audio) also ˈli-trət \

Definition of literate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : educated, cultured literate executives
b : able to read and write What percentage of the population is literate?
2a : versed in literature or creative writing : literary literate novelists
b : lucid, polished a literate essay
c : having knowledge or competence (see competent sense 2) computer-literate politically literate



Definition of literate (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an educated person
2 : a person who can read and write

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Other Words from literate


literately adverb
literateness noun

Examples of literate in a Sentence

Adjective She is literate in both English and Spanish. What percentage of the population is literate? The job requires you to be computer literate.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective According to data released by the World Bank, around 65% of adults in sub-Saharan African are literate, compared to over 84% globally. Rochelle Beighton And Rachel Wood, CNN, "An audiobooks app will tell unheard African stories," 16 Jan. 2021 Capps is known for gritty, literate lyrics peopled by interesting characters. al, "‘My whole world went away’: 2020 through the eyes of Alabamians," 31 Dec. 2020 Even among the literate, many read and write in one of India’s more than 30 official languages—another hurdle to accessing the internet on personal computers and laptops with English keyboards. Yasaswini Sampathkumar, Wired, "In India, Smartphones and Cheap Data Are Giving Women a Voice," 4 Jan. 2021 Yung took it upon herself to become both bilingual and bi-literate, attending public school by day and Chinese school at night, as was tradition. Sam Whiting,, "Judy Yung, Chinatown native and early scholar of Chinese-American life, dies at 74," 22 Dec. 2020 The launch of online job portals for laborers and e-passes to move around during the lockdown meant Indians who aren’t digitally literate could have lost out on livelihood opportunities. Vrishti Beniwal,, "Covid Risks a Lost Generation Amid India’s Digital Divide," 16 Dec. 2020 Elect a reasonable person to be the HOA president, another who knows something about accounting to be treasurer, and a secretary that’s literate. Karen Martin, Arkansas Online, "OPINION | KAREN MARTIN: The oddities of homeowners associations," 7 Dec. 2020 In the 1960s and the early 1970s, John Lennon was a global icon, known across continents for his literate lyrics, slashing wit, rakish charm and signature teashade sunglasses. NBC News, "John Lennon as 'stay-at-home dad': Inside his final years," 6 Dec. 2020 Buford has a smart, literate, sly voice on the page. New York Times, "Times Critics’ Top Books of 2020," 2 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Local and state sign-up portals are impossible to navigate, even for tech-literate adult children trying to enroll their elderly parents. John Knefel, The New Republic, "Don’t Let Amazon and Airbnb Get Their Tentacles in Vaccine Distribution," 17 Feb. 2021 The average literate Anchorage resident then was likely more conversant about international affairs than their modern equivalent. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "Mud, fires and bootlegging: What daily life looked like in the early years of Anchorage," 9 Nov. 2020 Such a cinema-literate approach added meta-textual wrinkles to Dear White People’s racial commentary. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "Justin Simien talks ‘Bad Hair,’ following his genre obsessions, and getting ‘free as hell’ in ’80s horror satire," 22 Oct. 2020 Remarkably, the elderly are the least computer-literate segment of the American population. Marie Fishpaw, National Review, "What Trump Has Done to Change the Health Care System and How That Has Helped Battle COVID-19," 18 Oct. 2020 Even if students aren't planning on going into a computer science field, being technology-literate is a valuable skill needed in today's professional world. Arkansas Online, "Building the future," 4 Oct. 2020 Hart-Wells entered the race to ensure students are scientifically and data literate. Lorraine Longhi, The Arizona Republic, "Elections: 6 Scottsdale school board candidates talk reopening in pandemic and other hot topics," 1 Oct. 2020 Western Europe’s literate elite, the clerics, by definition, did not have legitimate heirs, and so modeled a life outside of family networks. Razib Khan, National Review, "The WEIRDest People in the World," 16 Sep. 2020 New York's Dave Gettleman, who famously is not very computer-literate, appears to be planning to operate with just a single small laptop and a massive binder. Nick Schwartz, USA TODAY, "The NFL's first-ever virtual draft is going to be a chaotic mess," 22 Apr. 2020

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for literate

Adjective and Noun

Middle English literat, from Latin litteratus marked with letters, literate, from litterae letters, literature, from plural of littera

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Time Traveler for literate

Time Traveler

The first known use of literate was in the 15th century

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Statistics for literate

Last Updated

29 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Literate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for literate



English Language Learners Definition of literate

: able to read and write
: having or showing knowledge about a particular subject


lit·​er·​ate | \ ˈli-tə-rət How to pronounce literate (audio) \

Kids Definition of literate

1 : able to read and write
2 : having gotten a good education

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