literature [lit-er-uh-cher, -choo r, li-truh-] SynonymsExamplesWord Origin noun

  1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays.
  2. the entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people, etc.: the literature of England.
  3. the writings dealing with a particular subject: the literature of ornithology.
  4. the profession of a writer or author.
  5. literary work or production.
  6. any kind of printed material, as circulars, leaflets, or handbills: literature describing company products.
  7. Archaic. polite learning; literary culture; appreciation of letters and books.

Origin of literature 1375–1425; late Middle English litterature Latin litterātūra grammar. See literate, -ure Related formspre·lit·er·a·ture, nounSynonyms for literature 1. Literature, belles-lettres, letters refer to artistic writings worthy of being remembered. In the broadest sense, literature includes any type of writings on any subject: the literature of medicine; usually, however, it means the body of artistic writings of a country or period that are characterized by beauty of expression and form and by universality of intellectual and emotional appeal: English literature of the 16th century. Belles-lettres is a more specific term for writings of a light, elegant, or excessively refined character: His talent is not for scholarship but for belles-lettres. Letters (rare today outside of certain fixed phrases) refers to literature as a domain of study or creation: a man of letters. Related Words for literatures essay, drama, story, novel, prose, information, poetry, research, leaflet, pamphlet, lore, brochure, article, composition, biography, history, comment, abstract, disquisition, thesis Examples from the Web for literatures Contemporary Examples of literatures

  • Over here is Alexander, who wants to embrace all literatures, all peoples.

    Adventures with an Extreme Polyglot: Excerpt from ‘Babel No More’

    Michael Erard

    January 10, 2012

  • She grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, majored in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University, and is fluent in Russian.

    The Prep School Facebook Scandal

    Lynnley Browning

    November 22, 2010

  • She grew up in Tulsa, Okla., majored in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University, and is fluent in Russian.

    Inside Chelsea’s Wedding Party

    Lynnley Browning

    July 29, 2010

  • Historical Examples of literatures

  • The religions and literatures of the world will be open books, which he who wills may read.



  • The literatures of Europe, America, or Asia are an open book for him.

    Life Immovable

    Kostes Palamas

  • They have a share in the development of all Romance languages and literatures.

    Jewish Literature and Other Essays

    Gustav Karpeles

  • No, we must expect a continual divergence in our literatures.

    The Complete Essays of C. D. Warner

    Charles Dudley Warner

  • New countries, languages, and literatures were brought into its view.

    Vie de Bohme

    Orlo Williams

  • British Dictionary definitions for literatures literature noun

    1. written material such as poetry, novels, essays, etc, esp works of imagination characterized by excellence of style and expression and by themes of general or enduring interest
    2. the body of written work of a particular culture or peopleScandinavian literature
    3. written or printed matter of a particular type or on a particular subjectscientific literature; the literature of the violin
    4. printed material giving a particular type of informationsales literature
    5. the art or profession of a writer
    6. obsolete learning

    Word Origin for literature C14: from Latin litterātūra writing; see letter Word Origin and History for literatures literature n.

    late 14c., from Latin literatura/litteratura “learning, a writing, grammar,” originally “writing formed with letters,” from litera/littera “letter” (see letter (n.1)). Originally “book learning” (it replaced Old English boccræft), the meaning “literary production or work” is first attested 1779 in Johnson’s “Lives of the English Poets” (he didn’t include this definition in his dictionary, however); that of “body of writings from a period or people” is first recorded 1812.

    Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. [Ezra Pound, “ABC of Reading”]

    Meaning “the whole of the writing on a particular subject” is from 1860; sense of “printed matter generally” is from 1895. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish literatura, Italian letteratura, German Literatur.

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