American English

Definition of literal adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[usually before noun] being the basic or usual meaning of a word or phrase I am not referring to “small” people in the literal sense of the word. The literal meaning of “petrify” is “turn to stone.” compare figurative, metaphorical
  2. 2[usually before noun] that follows the original words exactly a literal translation compare free
  3. 3(disapproving) lacking imagination Her interpretation of the music was too literal.
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noun [uncountable]
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: literal