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

The tradition of prison literature as a source of hope and inspiration, for writers and readers alike, continues in our own time. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Literature Behind Bars," 12 July 2018 His appetite for food, wine, music, art, movies, people, conversation, laughter, literature and life was legendary. Mark Swed,, "As a conductor, composer and man, Oliver Knussen was larger than life," 10 July 2018 In collaboration with the women of BLK@Spotify, the company will be seeking three groundbreaking black females in film, literature and visual arts. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Pharrell Williams Curating Second Volume of 'Black History Is Happening Now' With Spotify," 10 July 2018 The only material available at the announcement was a piece of campaign literature with a photo of James and a list of pre-k's benefits. Bill Turque And Mará Rose Williams, kansascity, "James launches campaign for sales tax hike to fund pre-K," 3 July 2018 Canto general is, as intended, a monument of Western and specifically American literature. Benjamin Kunkel, The New Republic, "The partisan world of Pablo Neruda," 2 July 2018 After Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump, a whole genre of nonfiction literature has emerged, seeking to explain how democracies die, or why Western liberalism is in retreat. Sean Illing, Vox, "Why the death of democracy may be overhyped," 2 July 2018 After all, the archives have been reduced from the pantheon of literature and books to essays and pamphlets to speeches and op-eds. Alexander Heffner, Time, "The American Historical Record Includes Court Cases, Famous Speeches—And Trump’s Tweets. Here’s Why That Matters," 2 July 2018 John McNamara was a sports writer and copy editor who could talk fluently about everything from politics to literature. Chip Reid, CBS News, "Victims of Capital Gazette shooting remembered at vigil," 29 June 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

22 Sep 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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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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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