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[lit-er-uh-liz-uh m] /ˈlɪt ər əˌlɪz əm/
adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense, as in translation or interpretation:
to interpret the law with uncompromising literalism.
a peculiarity of expression resulting from this:
The work is studded with these obtuse literalisms.
exact representation or portrayal, without idealization, as in art or literature:
a literalism more appropriate to journalism than to the novel.
Origin of literalism
1635-45; literal + -ism
Related forms
literalist, noun
literalistic, adjective
literalistically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for literalism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is literalism, however, which bears the brunt of his attack.

  • This was so deep a conviction of her soul, that she had little patience with literalism.

    The Story of a Life J. Breckenridge Ellis
  • Whilst the Churches addicted to ritualism and literalism decline, the Brotherhood movement gains in force and influence.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • literalism and fanaticism are not vices confined to any one sect.

    The End Of The World Edward Eggleston
  • Routine and literalism and a certain dry-throated earnestness and mental thirst, these are the very atmosphere of morbidity.

    A Miscellany of Men G. K. Chesterton
  • The literalism of the Panorama has lately been invaded by an effort toward the Ideal.

  • Two opinions stand in the way of this judgment; two opposite types of literalism in Biblical interpretation.

  • Yet this again is nothing but Roman literalism, the Roman way of taking every thing literally.

  • The perplexities of the critics arise from their attempt to find in the parable a literalism never intended by the Author.

    Jesus the Christ James Edward Talmage
British Dictionary definitions for literalism


the disposition to take words and statements in their literal sense
literal or realistic portrayal in art or literature
Derived Forms
literalist, noun
literalistic, adjective
literalistically, adverb
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
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