Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “literal”

See all translations

literal

adjective uk   /ˈlɪt.ər.əl/ us    /ˈlɪt̬.ɚ-/
C2 The literal meaning of a word is its original, basic meaning: The literal meaning of "television" is "seeing from a distance". You will need to show more than just a literal understanding of the text.
Compare
A literal translation of a text is done by translating each word separately, without looking at how the words are used together in a phrase or sentence. : Her translation is too literal, resulting in unnatural-sounding prose.
Translations of “literal”
in Korean 문자의…
in Arabic حَرفي…
in French littéral, réel…
in Turkish gerçek/asıl/sözlük anlamı…
in Italian letterale…
in Chinese (Traditional) (意義)字面的,根本的…
in Russian буквальный…
in Polish dosłowny…
in Spanish literal…
in Portuguese literal…
in German buchstäblich, wörtlich…
in Catalan literal…
in Japanese 文字どおりの…
in Chinese (Simplified) (意义)字面的,根本的…
(Definition of literal from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of literal?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “literal” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

ditto

used to agree with something that has just been said, or to avoid repeating something that has been said

Word of the Day

Euphemisms (Words used to Avoid Offending People)

by Kate Woodford,
March 04, 2015
​​​ We recently looked at the language that we use to describe lies and lying. One area of lying that we considered was ‘being slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth’. One reason for not speaking the complete truth is to avoid saying something that might upset or offend people. Words and

Read More 

snapchat verb

March 02, 2015
to send someone a message using the photomessaging application Snapchat We used to have a thing until he got a girlfriend. now

Read More