lit·​er·​al·​ism ˈli-t(ə-)rə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce literalism (audio)
: adherence to the explicit substance of an idea or expression
biblical literalism
: fidelity to observable fact : realism
literalist noun
literalistic adjective

Example Sentences

if audiences ever got the literalism they claim they want in movies, they'd be fast asleep by the second reel
Recent Examples on the Web Dystopian literalism bleeds into all the proceedings here, moving like a wheel within a wheel. Rob Weinert-kendt, Vulture, 20 Oct. 2022 Artistic license met biblical literalism, an awkward compromise was reached, but prominent Christian activists will still probably leave disappointed and the controversy will go on. Kyle Hill, Discover Magazine, 28 Mar. 2014 But as there is a push for greater casting freedoms in some areas, there is an argument for more literalism in others, especially from actors with certain backgrounds who lack opportunities. New York Times, 28 July 2022 Meanwhile, Wilde’s direction manages to be simultaneously overheated and pedestrian, resorting to blunt-force literalism in moments that call for Hitchcockian finesse. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2022 Whose happiness is prioritized in a family? — capture both kid-brain literalism and the bigger, harder questions of growing up. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, 28 July 2022 Given the dangers of biblical literalism, Christians should stop taking every word of Holy Writ literally. The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 July 2022 Even in productions that aspire to greater subtlety, a grinding literalism threatens—a dutiful hitting of marks. Molly Fischer, The New Yorker, 13 June 2022 In the late 19th century, Christian abolitionists countered the literalism of white supremacists by appealing to the Bible as a whole. The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'literalism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1644, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of literalism was in 1644

Dictionary Entries Near literalism

Cite this Entry

“Literalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Mar. 2023.

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