follow Dictionary.com

Capitol vs. capital? What's the difference?

literal

[lit-er-uh l] /ˈlɪt ər əl/
adjective
1.
in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical:
the literal meaning of a word.
2.
following the words of the original very closely and exactly:
a literal translation of Goethe.
3.
true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual:
a literal description of conditions.
4.
being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy:
the literal extermination of a city.
5.
(of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic.
6.
of or relating to the letters of the alphabet.
7.
of the nature of letters.
8.
expressed by letters.
9.
affecting a letter or letters:
a literal error.
noun
10.
a typographical error, especially involving a single letter.
Origin of literal
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin litterālis of letters. See letter1, -al1
Related forms
literalness, noun
nonliteral, adjective
nonliterally, adverb
nonliteralness, noun
overliteral, adjective
unliteral, adjective
unliterally, adverb
Can be confused
literal, littoral.
Synonyms
3. truthful, exact, reliable.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for literal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for literal

literal

/ˈlɪtərəl/
adjective
1.
in exact accordance with or limited to the primary or explicit meaning of a word or text
2.
word for word
3.
dull, factual, or prosaic
4.
consisting of, concerning, or indicated by letters
5.
true; actual
6.
(maths) containing or using coefficients and constants represented by letters: ax² + b is a literal expression Compare numerical (sense 3a)
noun
7.
Also called literal error. a misprint or misspelling in a text
Derived Forms
literalness, literality (ˌlɪtəˈrælɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin litterālis concerning letters, from Latin litteraletter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for literal
adj.

late 14c., "taking words in their natural meaning" (originally in reference to Scripture and opposed to mystical or allegorical), from Old French literal and directly from Late Latin literalis/litteralis "of or belonging to letters or writing," from Latin litera/littera "letter, alphabetic sign; literature, books" (see letter (n.1)). Meaning "of or pertaining to alphabetic letters" is from late 15c. Sense of "verbally exact" is attested from 1590s, as is application to the primary sense of a word or passage. Literal-minded is attested from 1791.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
literal in Technology

programming
A constant made available to a process, by inclusion in the executable text. Most modern systems do not allow texts to modify themselves during execution, so literals are indeed constant; their value is written at compile-time and is read-only at run time.
In contrast, values placed in variables or files and accessed by the process via a symbolic name, can be changed during execution. This may be an asset. For example, messages can be given in a choice of languages by placing the translation in a file.
Literals are used when such modification is not desired. The name of the file mentioned above (not its content), or a physical constant such as 3.14159, might be coded as a literal. Literals can be accessed quickly, a potential advantage of their use.
(1996-01-23)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for literal

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for literal

7
9
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for literal