1. According to the letter or verbal expression; real; not figurative or metaphorical; as, the literal meaning of a phrase.
It hath but one simple literal sense whose light the owls can not abide. --Tyndale.
2. Following the letter or exact words; not free.
A middle course between the rigor of literal translations and the liberty of paraphrasts. --Hooker.
3. Consisting of, or expressed by, letters.
The literal notation of numbers was known to Europeans before the ciphers. --Johnson.
4. Giving a strict or literal construction; unimaginative; matter-of-fact; -- applied to persons.
Literal contract Law, a contract of which the whole evidence is given in writing. --Bouvier.
Literal equation Math., an equation in which known quantities are expressed either wholly or in part by means of letters; -- distinguished from a numerical equation.
Lit·er·al, n. Literal meaning. [Obs.] --Sir T. Browne.
adj 1: being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of
something; "her actual motive"; "a literal solitude
like a desert"- G.K.Chesterton; "a genuine dilemma"
[syn: actual, genuine, real]
2: without interpretation or embellishment; "a literal
translation of the scene before him"
3: limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text; "a
literal translation" [ant: figurative]
4: lacking stylistic embellishment; "a literal description";
"wrote good but plain prose"; "a plain unadorned account
of the coronation"; "a forthright unembellished style"
[syn: plain, unembellished]
5: of the clearest kind; usually used for emphasis; "it's the
literal truth"; "a matter of investment, pure and simple"
[syn: pure and simple]
6: (of a translation) corresponding word for word with the
original; "literal translation of the article"; "an
awkward word-for-word translation" [syn: word-for-word]
n : a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical
failures of some kind [syn: misprint, erratum, typographical
error, typo, literal error]