AskDefine | Define literal

Dictionary Definition

literal adj
1 being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something; "her actual motive"; "a literal solitude like a desert"- G.K.Chesterton; "a genuine dilemma" [syn: actual, genuine, real]
2 without interpretation or embellishment; "a literal translation of the scene before him"
3 limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text; "a literal translation" [ant: figurative]
4 lacking stylistic embellishment; "a literal description"; "wrote good but plain prose"; "a plain unadorned account of the coronation"; "a forthright unembellished style" [syn: plain, unembellished]
5 of the clearest kind; usually used for emphasis; "it's the literal truth"; "a matter of investment, pure and simple" [syn: pure and simple]
6 (of a translation) corresponding word for word with the original; "literal translation of the article"; "an awkward word-for-word translation" [syn: word-for-word] n : a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical failures of some kind [syn: misprint, erratum, typographical error, typo, literal error]

User Contributed Dictionary



litteralis (also literalis) "of or pertaining to letters".


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Consisting of, or expressed by, letters.



exactly as stated; read or understood without additional interpretation
following the letter or exact words, not taking liberties
  • Finnish: kirjaimellinen, sananmukainen, sanatarkka
  • Italian: letterale
  • Japanese: 文字通り
  • Russian: точный (tóčnyj)
consisting of, or expressed by, letters
  • Italian: letterale
  • Japanese: 文字上の
  • Russian: буквенный


  1. A value, as opposed to an identifier, written into the source code of a computer program.

See also



  1. literal

Extensive Definition

a non-figurative sense.
literal in French: Littéral

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Christian, abecedarian, accepted, allographic, alphabetic, approved, arid, authentic, authoritative, barren, basic, bona fide, boring, candid, canonical, capital, card-carrying, colorless, conventional, correct, customary, denotative, dictionary, dinkum, down-to-earth, dry, dull, earthbound, essential, etymological, evangelical, exact, faithful, firm, following the letter, genuine, good, graphemic, honest, honest-to-God, humdrum, ideographic, inartificial, infecund, infertile, lawful, legitimate, lettered, lexical, lexigraphic, lifelike, literatim, logogrammatic, logographic, lower-case, majuscule, matter-of-fact, minuscular, minuscule, mundane, natural, naturalistic, objective, of the faith, original, orthodox, orthodoxical, pictographic, precise, proper, prosaic, prosing, prosy, pure, real, realistic, received, right, rightful, scriptural, semantic, simon-pure, simple, simplistic, sincere, sound, staid, standard, sterling, stolid, strict, stuffy, sure-enough, tedious, textual, traditional, traditionalistic, transliterated, true, true to life, true to nature, true to reality, true-blue, unadulterated, unaffected, unassumed, unassuming, unbiased, uncial, uncolored, uncomplicated, unconcocted, uncopied, uncounterfeited, undisguised, undisguising, undistorted, unembellished, unexaggerated, unfabricated, unfanciful, unfeigned, unfeigning, unfictitious, unflattering, unideal, unimaginative, unimagined, unimitated, uninspired, uninvented, uninventive, unoriginal, unpoetic, unprejudiced, unpretended, unpretending, unqualified, unromantic, unromanticized, unsimulated, unspecious, unsynthetic, unvarnished, upper-case, verbal, verbatim, veridical, verisimilar, word-for-word
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