lit·​er·​a·​ture | \ˈli-tə-rə-ˌchu̇r, ˈli-trə-ˌchu̇r, ˈli-tər-ˌchu̇r, ˈli-tə-, -chər, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌtu̇r \

Definition of literature 

1 archaic : literary culture

2 : the production of literary work especially as an occupation Literature is his profession.

3a(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 written works produced in a particular language, country, or age French literature Renaissance literature

c : the body of writings on a particular subject scientific literature

d : printed matter (such as leaflets or circulars) campaign literature

4 : the aggregate of a usually specified type of musical compositions the Brahms piano literature

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

Vox / Javier Zarracina Every year, the National Book Foundation celebrates the best of American literature by handing out the National Book Awards. Constance Grady, Vox, "We read all 25 National Book Award finalists for 2018. Here’s what we thought.," 12 Nov. 2018 But Melville finds no role, consoling or otherwise, for religion in his novella, and the despairing futility at its heart was unprecedented in American literature of the time. James Gardner, WSJ, "Debilitated, But Infinitely Human," 31 Aug. 2018 Fun facts: Thomas researches how black men are represented in literature. Nicole Blanchard And Dana Oland, idahostatesman, "One of these five people will be Boise State University's next president | Idaho Statesman," 18 Apr. 2018 In honor of the holiday, this panel at the Happy Dog in Gordon Square is taking on one of literature’s most popular topics: Love., "17 things to do in Cleveland the weekend of Feb. 1-4," 1 Feb. 2018 Immigrants have left their mark on every part of the U.S., and literature is no exception. Michael Schaub,, "Celebrate Independence Day with these 17 books by immigrant authors," 3 July 2018 The vast literature on Hitler and Nazism keeps circling around a few enduring questions. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "How American Racism Influenced Hitler," 23 Apr. 2018 Again, the conditions for the second bout were primarily under Alvarez’s terms, such as fight location and his name as challenger appearing first on the promotional literature. Santos A. Perez, miamiherald, "This boxer might be facing one of his longest time off after his opponent was suspended | Miami Herald," 16 Apr. 2018 Get our daily newsletter Dr Wang knew from the botanical literature that most plants secrete from their roots a mixture of carbohydrates, amino acids and fatty acids that are food for microbes. The Economist, "A cheap way to save rice plants from the effects of acid rain," 12 July 2018

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 1

History and Etymology for literature

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

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Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

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

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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 \

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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