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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
  • Scriptural literalism can only be part of the answer.
  • On this recurrent theme, a small dose of literalism goes a long way.
  • But, in this instance, he'd approached the show with a plodding literalism.
  • The governor's kind, amiable personality is still conveyed, even through this degree of literalism.
  • literalism must give way to a construction which will avoid absurdity or unreasonableness.
  • Heraldry is mixed with haberdashery, humbug with history, and scholarly looking footnotes with simple-minded literalism.
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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