lit·​er·​a·​ture | \ ˈli-tə-rə-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce literature (audio) , ˈli-trə-ˌchu̇r, ˈli-tər-ˌchu̇r, ˈli-tə-, -chər, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌtu̇r How to pronounce literature (audio) \

Definition of literature

1a(1) : 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
(2) : an example of such writings what came out, though rarely literature, was always a roaring good storyPeople
b : the body of writings on a particular subject scientific literature
c : the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age French literature Renaissance literature
d : printed matter (such as leaflets or circulars) campaign literature
2 : the production of literary work especially as an occupation Literature is his profession.
3 : the aggregate of a usually specified type of musical compositions the Brahms piano literature
4 archaic : literary culture

Examples of literature in a Sentence

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?
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Recent Examples on the Web In its beguiling blue-sky brightness, Saturday seemed to spurn the somber image of the month created over the years in memory and literature. Washington Post, "Saturday was the warmest day of a string of warm November days," 8 Nov. 2020 And frankly the commandment is wise advice even for those who consider the Bible to be nothing more than great literature. Arkansas Online, "What happened to 'love thy neighbor'?," 8 Nov. 2020 Since 2015, Well-Read Black Girl, or WRBG, has been doing the same, through literature by authors of color and featuring Black and brown protagonists. NBC News, "'Seen, known and heard': Black readers find education and healing in book clubs," 5 Nov. 2020 The company’s sales team convinced doctors of the drug’s safety by using literature that had been produced by doctors who were paid by the company. Star Tribune, "Small win in ongoing opioid crisis," 5 Nov. 2020 Republicans continued to knock on doors and campaign in-person as Democrats favored Zoom calls and literature drops. Jackie Borchardt, The Enquirer, "How Donald Trump won Ohio: A closer look at the campaign in a battleground state," 4 Nov. 2020 There were no lines, no surrogates wearing pins or handing out literature, just a public-health notice reminding us to maintain social distance. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, "The Good News of Record Voter Turnout," 3 Nov. 2020 Campaign materials — including t-shirts, buttons or literature — related to a candidate, party or issue on the ballot are not allowed in a polling location. Marissa Evans, Star Tribune, "9 things to know on Election Day in Minnesota," 3 Nov. 2020 At the Kempsville library polling place in Virginia Beach, Carol Harrison, 59, voted early for the Democratic ticket and stayed to hand out party literature to other voters. Washington Post, "Virginians head to the polls after weeks of early voting, with congressional seats hanging in the balance," 3 Nov. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for literature

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

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Time Traveler for literature

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for literature

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Literature.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for literature


How to pronounce literature (audio) How to pronounce literature (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of literature

: written works (such as poems, plays, and novels) that are considered to be very good and to have lasting importance
: books, articles, etc., about a particular subject
: printed materials (such as booklets, leaflets, and brochures) that provide information about something


lit·​er·​a·​ture | \ ˈli-tə-rə-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce literature (audio) \

Kids Definition of literature

1 : written works considered as having high quality and ideas of lasting and widespread interest
2 : written material I read some travel literature before my vacation.

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More from Merriam-Webster on literature

Nglish: Translation of literature for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of literature for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about literature

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