Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

  

English definition of “literal”

literal

adjective     /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 need to demonstrate to the examiners that you have more than a literal understanding of the text. → Compare figurativeAccurate and exact 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 adjective from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of literal

Definitions of “literal” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

exercise

physical activity that you do to make your body strong and healthy

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More