lit·​er·​a·​ture ˈli-tə-rə-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce literature (audio)
-ˌtu̇r How to pronounce literature (audio)
: 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
: an example of such writings
what came out, though rarely literature, was always a roaring good storyPeople
: the body of writings on a particular subject
scientific literature
: the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age
French literature
Renaissance literature
: printed matter (such as leaflets or circulars)
campaign literature
: the production of literary work especially as an occupation
Literature is his profession.
: the aggregate of a usually specified type of musical compositions
the Brahms piano literature
archaic : literary culture

Example Sentences

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? See More
Recent Examples on the Web One will focus on the Harlem Renaissance, the Black cultural movement that influenced art, music and literature globally in the early 20th century. Patrick Connolly, Orlando Sentinel, 1 Feb. 2023 Jehovah’s Witnesses assemble on street corners around city hall, offering passersby copies of their literature. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2023 To do so, Johnson and Zolman scour scientific literature and use Johnson as a guinea pig for promising treatments. Valerie Nome, Peoplemag, 27 Jan. 2023 Researchers fear that in 2023, educators and librarians may be forced to censor their literature, self-censor their curriculum to avoid backlash and more. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 12 Jan. 2023 Dylan has done nothing less than treating these songs, many of them obscure, as modern texts, and has dug deeply into them, in precisely the way that Jews are accustomed to treating our sacred literature. The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Dec. 2022 Native American culture is not a monolith, and neither is its literature. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, 26 Nov. 2022 One of the best ways to learn about a locale is through its literature. Katherine J. Igoe, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2022 In our literature, cutting the hair is a symbol of mourning, and sometimes a symbol of protesting. Carrie Wittmer, Glamour, 5 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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

Dictionary Entries Near literature

Cite this Entry

“Literature.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


lit·​er·​a·​ture ˈlit-ə-rə-ˌchu̇(ə)r How to pronounce literature (audio) ˈli-trə- How to pronounce literature (audio)
: written works having excellence of form or expression and ideas of lasting and widespread interest
: written material (as of a period or on a subject)

More from Merriam-Webster on literature

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