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

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 Peart was wildly literate, and his earnest love of science fiction informed Rush’s singular aesthetic. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "The Misfit Awesomeness of Neil Peart and Rush," 11 Jan. 2020 In addition to making sure Stritch students are literate in academic subjects like reading and math, the university also builds financial, digital and health skills into students' education, Rinehart said. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ted and Mary Kellner give $2.5 million to Cardinal Stritch to support students and programs," 17 Dec. 2019 To film industry peers and moviegoers who paid attention to the credits, the wife-and-husband team of Harriet Frank and Ravetch, who died in 2010, stood out among Hollywood’s most successful and literate script writers. Robert D. Mcfadden,, "Harriet Frank Jr., a screenwriter for ‘Hud’ and ‘Norma Rae’," 30 Jan. 2020 To film industry peers and moviegoers who paid attention to the credits, the wife-and-husband team of Ms. Frank and Mr. Ravetch, who died in 2010, stood out among Hollywood’s most successful and literate script writers. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Harriet Frank Jr., Writer of Challenging Screenplays, Dies at 96," 28 Jan. 2020 Those of us with semi-computer literate grandparents are familiar with this explanation. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "All of the questions Forky has asked on Forky Asks a Question," 10 Jan. 2020 As the percentage of literate females spiked in France, the publishing industry pounced on this potential market. Samantha Presnal, Quartzy, "Thanksgiving leftovers can be an outlet for creativity," 29 Nov. 2019 Mirroring his boss in that regard, O’Brien is in the classic mold of serious, experienced, historically literate national security specialists. Hugh Hewitt, Twin Cities, "Hugh Hewitt: Trump chose exactly the national security adviser he and the country need," 20 Sep. 2019 Champion credentials: Crowder distributes books and organizes tutoring in Hough, where an estimated 95% of residents are illiterate or barely literate. cleveland, "Rhonda Crowder and Hough Reads battle widespread illiteracy: Cleveland Champions," 29 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The program makes sure to emphasize that students leave the program bilingual, bi-literate, and with a strong sense of biculturalism, which Herod believes is key to a student’s total immersion in the program. Ryan Nickerson, Houston Chronicle, "Herod Elementary celebrates 25 years of dual language," 14 Feb. 2020 Kalder’s point is the disquieting one that the worst tyrants of the past century were hardly the brutal less-than-literates of our imagination. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Field Guide to Tyranny," 16 Dec. 2019 In the Washington Heights study, 35 percent of the illiterate group (82 of 238) had dementia when the study began, as against 18 percent (137 of 743) of literate participants. Gary Stix, Scientific American, "Literacy Might Shield the Brain from Dementia," 13 Nov. 2019 For each app in the competition, XPRIZE tested a group of low-literate, or functionally illiterate, adults at the start and end of a 1-year period of that group using the app. Jordan Wilkerson, Dallas News, "SMU gaming app aims to teach millions of U.S. adults who can't read," 1 Aug. 2019 This being the Washington area — full of literate, globe-trotting, policy types — the Current Affairs, Travel and Military History categories are popular. John Kelly, Washington Post, "This McLean used book sale turns 50 this year. It features very D.C. titles.," 11 Sep. 2019 Nothing like signifyin’ in the Henry Louis Gates Jr. sense, with its necessarily intelligent playfulness, but something essentially post-literate and cheerless. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "A Herd Has No Mind," 11 July 2019 The sad proof: Seventy percent of blind Americans are unemployed — but of those who do work, 85% are Braille-literate, according to the NFB. Peg Rosen, Good Housekeeping, "Blindness Can't Stop Me from Living the Life I Want to Live," 14 Sep. 2018 Lin said this is a good thing because not everyone with pending immigration cases is computer literate. Kate Morrissey,, "San Diego immigration court to pilot electronic filing system," 9 July 2018

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

3 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Literate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for literate


How to pronounce literate (audio)

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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