noun lit·er·a·ture \ ˈli-tə-rə-ˌchu̇r , ˈli-trə-ˌchu̇r , ˈli-tər-ˌchu̇r , ˈli-tə- , -chər , -ˌtyu̇r , -ˌtu̇r \
|Updated on: 14 Jul 2018

Definition of literature

1 archaic : literary culture
2 : the production of literary work especially as an occupation
  • Literature is his profession.
3 a (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 story
  • People
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

  1. She took courses in history and literature.

  2. Her education gave her an appreciation for great literature.

  3. He's an expert in American literature.

  4. the literature of the Renaissance

  5. studies in different Asian literatures

  6. Can you send me some literature about your product?

Recent Examples of literature from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of literature

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

LITERATURE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of literature for English Language Learners

  • : 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

LITERATURE Defined for Kids


noun lit·er·a·ture \ ˈli-tə-rə-ˌchu̇r \

Definition of literature for Students

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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