See also: łiterature


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Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English literature, from Old French littérature, from Latin literatura or litteratura, from littera (letter), from Etruscan, from Ancient Greek διφθέρᾱ (diphthérā, tablet). Displaced native Old English bōccræft.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈlɪ.tə.ɹə.t͡ʃə(ɹ)/, /ˈlɪ.tɹə.t͡ʃə(ɹ)/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈlɪ.tɚ.ɪ.t͡ʃɚ/, /ˈlɪ.tɚ.ə.t͡ʃɚ/, /ˈlɪ.t͡ʃɹə.t͡ʃɚ/, /ˈlɪ.tɚ.t͡ʃɚ/
  • (file)
  • (Midwestern US) IPA(key): /ˈlɪ.tə.t͡ʃɚ/


literature (usually uncountable, plural literatures)

  1. The body of all written works.
  2. The collected creative writing of a nation, people, group, or culture.
  3. (usually preceded by the) All the papers, treatises, etc. published in academic journals on a particular subject.
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, chapter 7, in Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 373:
      The obvious question to ask at this point is: ‘Why posit the existence of a set of Thematic Relations (THEME, AGENT, INSTRUMENT, etc.) distinct from constituent structure relations?ʼ The answer given in the relevant literature is that a variety of linguistic phenomena can be accounted for in a more principled way in terms of Thematic Functions than in terms of constituent structure relations.
    • 2018, James Lambert, “A multitude of ‘lishes’: The nomenclature of hybridity”, in English World-Wide[1], page 3:
      In fact, information on when each of the terms first appeared in English, and if obsolete, how long they persisted, is entirely absent from the literature.
  4. Written fiction of a high standard.
    However, even “literary” science fiction rarely qualifies as literature, because it treats characters as sets of traits rather than as fully realized human beings with unique life stories. —Adam Cadre, 2008


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Further readingEdit

  • "literature" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 183.