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.
following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation of Goethe.
true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
(of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic.
of or pertaining to the letters of the alphabet.
of the nature of letters.
expressed by letters.
affecting a letter or letters: a literal error.
a typographical error, especially involving a single letter.

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin litterālis of letters. See letter, al1

literalness, noun
nonliteral, adjective
nonliterally, adverb
nonliteralness, noun
overliteral, adjective
unliteral, adjective
unliterally, adverb

literal, littoral.

3. truthful, exact, reliable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
literal (ˈlɪtərəl)
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 Compare numerical containing or using coefficients and constants represented by letters: ax² + b is a literal expression
7.  Also called: literal error a misprint or misspelling in a text
[C14: from Late Latin litterālis concerning letters, from Latin litteraletter]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "taking words in their natural meaning" (originally in reference to Scripture and opposed to mystical or allegorical), from O.Fr. literal, from L.L. lit(t)eralis "of or belonging to letters or writing," from L. lit(t)era "letter." Sense of "verbally exact" is attested from 1590s. Literal-minded
is attested from 1869.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

literal definition

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.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Example sentences
Cultural differences mean that a literal understanding of what someone says is
  often a world away from real understanding.
The flooding began flushing out rat holes around the lake, triggering a literal
  rat race for higher ground.
With a literal imitation of camp-meeting racket, and trance.
Stem-winder somehow has more life in it, more fancy and vividness, than the
  literal keyless-watch.
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