lit·​er·​a·​ture ˈli-tə-rə-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce literature (audio)
-ˌtyu̇r How to pronounce literature (audio)
: writings in prose or verse
especially : writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest
literature stands related to man as science stands to nature J. H. Newman
: an example of such writings
what came out, though rarely literature, was always a roaring good storyPeople
: the body of writings on a particular subject
scientific literature
: the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age
French literature
Renaissance literature
: printed matter (such as leaflets or circulars)
campaign literature
: the production of literary work especially as an occupation
Literature is his profession.
: the aggregate of a usually specified type of musical compositions
the Brahms piano literature
archaic : literary culture

Example Sentences

She took courses in history and literature. Her education gave her an appreciation for great literature. He's an expert in American literature. the literature of the Renaissance studies in different Asian literatures Can you send me some literature about your product? See More
Recent Examples on the Web That was determined by my father, who had researched, with the help of one of his older sisters, a translator of Korean literature into English, the Chinese characters available for each syllable. Globe Staff,, 16 May 2023 The character comes from a short story published in 1919 by Lu Xun, the father of modern Chinese literature. Julia Malleck, Quartz, 16 May 2023 This 1951 novel is a classic of post-World War II American literature. Patrick J. Kiger, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2023 Having written this piece, I too am now implicated, having enticed others to read this book and enter the long genealogy of suicide literature. Jamieson Webster, Washington Post, 11 May 2023 Lisman began collecting rare books in the 1980s, assembling a remarkable wealth of rare American literature, particularly from the post-Revolutionary period through the mid-19th century. Ted Scheinman, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 May 2023 Heath teaches about culture, music, literature, film and the African diaspora. Claretta Bellamy, NBC News, 1 May 2023 Born in China’s northern Liaoning province in 1971, Li moved to Shanghai in his 20s to study literature and later worked in the publishing industry. Nectar Gan, CNN, 26 Apr. 2023 The kits include Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses, along with a rescue breathing pocket mask, test strips to determine if a substance contains fentanyl and literature on recovery and treatment. Journal Sentinel, 21 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'literature.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin litteratura writing, grammar, learning, from litteratus

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of literature was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near literature

Cite this Entry

“Literature.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


lit·​er·​a·​ture ˈlit-ə-rə-ˌchu̇(ə)r How to pronounce literature (audio) ˈli-trə- How to pronounce literature (audio)
: written works having excellence of form or expression and ideas of lasting and widespread interest
: written material (as of a period or on a subject)

More from Merriam-Webster on literature

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