Meaning of LITERATURE in English


ˈlid.ərəˌchu̇(ə)r, ˈlitərə-, ˈli.trə-, ˈlid.ə(r)ˌch-, -ˌchu̇ə, -_chə(r), -rə.ˌtyu̇-, -rəˌtu̇- noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English litterature, from Latin litteratura, literatura writing, grammar, learning, from litteratus, literatus literate + -ura -ure

1. archaic : knowledge of books : literary culture

in many things he was grotesquely ignorant; he was a man of very small literature — W.D.Howells

2. : the production of literary work especially as an occupation

continually dissociated himself from literature … as a profession — Philip Rahv


a. : writings in prose or verse ; especially : writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest

literature stands related to man as science stands to nature — J.H.Newman

our conceptions of types of character and the manifold variations of these types is due mainly to literature — John Dewey

b. : the body of written works produced in a particular language, country, or age

they speak a … sonorous and flexible language, and their literature is not unworthy of their language — H.T.Buckle

that superb mess of thought and observation, lust, rhetoric, and pedantry, that we call Renaissance literature — Clive Bell

c. : the body of writings on a particular subject

the literature on field sports is a mass of technicalities held together with a sticky kind of nature loving — J.M.Barzun

any scientist … will answer that at the beginning of an attack on any problem his first task is to look up the existing literature — T.H.Savory

d. : leaflets, handbills, circulars, or other printed matter of any kind

asked for volunteers to distribute campaign literature

induced to migrate by glowing real-estate development literature — American Guide Series: Tennessee

4. : the aggregate of musical compositions

programs … representing within any one year the greatest possible breadth of musical literature — William Schuman

specifically : compositions of regional or historical significance or for any particular instrument or group of instruments

a cross section of the Brahms piano literature — Saturday Review

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.