Literal definition

lĭtər-əl
A letter or symbol that stands for itself as opposed to a feature, function, or entity associated with it in a programming language.

$ can be a symbol that refers to the end of a line, but as a literal, it is a dollar sign.

noun
17
2
Following or representing the exact words of the original; word-for-word.

A literal translation.

adjective
8
1
Consisting of, using, or expressed by letters.

Literal notation.

adjective
6
0
Real; not going beyond the actual facts; accurate; unvarnished.

The literal truth.

adjective
4
0
Of, involving, or expressed by a letter or letters of the alphabet.

Literal notation.

adjective
3
0
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Being so in fact but not in name; virtual.

The chairman is a literal tyrant.

adjective
1
0
Based on the actual words in their ordinary meaning; not figurative or symbolic.

The literal meaning of a passage.

adjective
1
0
Giving the actual denotation of the word.
adjective
1
0
Giving the original or earlier meaning of a word; etymological.

The literal meaning of ponder is “to weigh”

adjective
1
0
Habitually interpreting statements or words according to their actual denotation; prosaic; matter-of-fact.

A literal mind.

adjective
1
0
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Having a literal mind; lacking imagination.
adjective
1
0
(chiefly brit.) A typographical error.
noun
1
0
Exactly as stated; read or understood without additional interpretation; according to the letter or verbal expression; real; not figurative or metaphorical.

The literal translation is “hands full of bananas" but it means empty-handed.

adjective
1
0
Following the letter or exact words; not free; not taking liberties.

A literal reading of the law would prohibit it, but that is clearly not the intent.

adjective
1
0
(uncommon) Consisting of, or expressed by, letters.

A literal equation.

adjective
1
0
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(of a person) Giving a strict or literal construction; unimaginative; matter-of-fact.
adjective
1
0
(programming) A value, as opposed to an identifier, written into the source code of a computer program.
noun
1
0
(logic) A propositional variable or the negation of a propositional variable.
noun
1
0
The definition of literal is a translation that strictly follows the exact words.

An example of literal is the belief that the world was created in exactly six days with the seventh day devoted to rest, as per Genesis in the Bible.

adjective
1
1
Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words.
adjective
1
1
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Word for word; verbatim.

A literal translation.

adjective
1
1
Avoiding exaggeration, metaphor, or embellishment; factual; prosaic.

A literal description; a literal mind.

adjective
1
1

Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
literal
Plural:
literals

Origin of literal

  • Middle English from Old French from Late Latin litterālis of letters from Latin littera, lītera letter letter

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Old French literal, from Late Latin litteralis, also literalis (“of or pertaining to letters or to writing"), from Latin littera, litera (“a letter"); see letter.

    From Wiktionary