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 The 51st NAACP Image Awards — recognizing the achievements of people of color in TV, music, literature and film and those who promote social justice through creative endeavors — will air live on BET on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m. ET. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, "NAACP Image Awards: 'Harriet' Leads Film Nominations With 10," 9 Jan. 2020 The complete list of nominees for the 2020 NAACP Image Awards -- encompassing film , television, music, talk/news/information, literature and documentaries -- can be found here. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Beyoncé & Lizzo Lead Music Nominees Slate for 2020 NAACP Image Awards," 9 Jan. 2020 Every coming of age story in literature and film knows that. John Archibald |, al, "Welcome to the Golden Age of the schoolyard bully," 5 Jan. 2020 The ethnic studies track in history and literature was created in 2017, the minor in 2009. Kate Taylor, New York Times, "Denying a Professor Tenure, Harvard Sparks a Debate Over Ethnic Studies," 2 Jan. 2020 Courses include tai chi, music, figure drawing, theater, literature and writing as well as computer skills. Jill Tucker,, "SF saves art, music, writing classes for older adults," 30 Dec. 2019 An Image of Africa’, which questions the legitimacy of presentations of Africa within Western literature and philosophy. Lavinya Stennett, Quartz Africa, "West Africa’s oral histories tell us a more complete story than traditional post-colonial narratives," 16 Dec. 2019 ELLE Decor: What was your inspiration for Pacifique? Sean Leffers: I’ve always been drawn to Japanese women in film and literature. Samantha Swenson, ELLE Decor, "Pacifique’s Japanese-Inspired Interiors Blend Subtlety and Elegance," 16 Dec. 2019 Discussing values typically comes up in the context of history and literature, Edwards said. Meg Wingerter, The Denver Post, "Jeffco elementary will be latest Colorado school to adopt “classical” teaching model," 15 Dec. 2019

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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Literature.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with literature

Spanish Central: Translation of literature

Nglish: Translation of literature for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on literature

What made you want to look up literature? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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