literal Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “literal” in the English Dictionary

"literal" in British English

See all translations

literaladjective

uk   /ˈlɪt.ər.əl/  us   /ˈlɪt̬.ɚ-/
C2 The literal ​meaning of a word is ​itsoriginal, ​basicmeaning: 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.
(Definition of literal from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"literal" in American English

See all translations

literaladjective

 us   /ˈlɪt̬·ər·əl/
having ​exactly the same ​meaning as the ​basic or ​originalmeaning of a word or ​expression: a literal ​interpretation of the Constitution A literal ​translation of a phrase in another ​language gives the ​meaning of each ​separate word.
(Definition of literal from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of literal?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website
Word of the Day

float

a large vehicle with a flat surface that is decorated and used in festivals

Word of the Day

Chest pains and palpitations: talking about illness (2)
Chest pains and palpitations: talking about illness (2)
by Liz Walter,
February 03, 2016
My previous post (My leg hurts: Talking about illness (1)) presented some general vocabulary to use at the doctor’s. This one looks at some more specific areas of illness and explains some useful words and phrases that you may need to use or understand on a visit to the doctor’s. There are several

Read More 

farecasting noun
farecasting noun
February 08, 2016
predicting the optimum date to buy a plane ticket, especially on a website or using an app A handful of new and updated websites and apps are trying to perfect the art of what’s known as farecasting – predicting the best date to buy a ticket.

Read More