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 Precocious germination in pine cones is so rare that only one naturally occurring example of this condition, from 1965, has been described in scientific literature, Poinar said in the statement. Katie Hunt, CNN, 26 Nov. 2021 Le Tellier said he has long been fascinated by the idea of the double, a theme also taken up in literature by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Oscar Wilde and Jorge Luis Borges. New York Times, 23 Nov. 2021 Productivity in literature is more a sleight of hand than a triumph of will. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2021 Sami Outalbali in a beautifully soulful performance) lays eyes on Farah (Zbeida Belhajamor) in the halls of the Sorbonne, where both are taking a course in comparative literature. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 7 Nov. 2021 For nearly 40 years, Louise Erdrich has been a force in American literature, publishing 18 novels, three poetry collections and seven children’s books, along with short stories and nonfiction. oregonlive, 6 Nov. 2021 The Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious prize in literature, has existed since 1903. Alexander Onukwue, Quartz, 4 Nov. 2021 Born in Michigan in 1941, Lucking graduated from UCLA with a degree in literature and studied theater at the Pasadena Playhouse. Lynette Rice,, 4 Nov. 2021 The swanky Rhode Island destination may have been the inspiration for two of the most terrifying fictional locations in literature — the Bates Motel and The Overlook Hotel. Chelsey Cox, USA TODAY, 17 Oct. 2021

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

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Literature.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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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 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.

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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