literal

To describe something as literal is to say that it is exactly what it seems to be. For example, if you put up a literal barrier to keep the world out, you've actually built a real wall.

The background of literal includes the Latin litterālis, meaning "of letters or writing." This led to the sense of exactness, suggesting something is "to the letter." Many people misuse this word, as in "Listening to that dull teacher put me in a literal coma." Possible, but highly doubtful.

Primary Meanings of literal

1.
adj
limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text
2.
n
a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical failures of some kind
Full Definitions of literal
1

adj limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text

“a literal translation”
Synonyms:
exact
marked by strict and particular and complete accordance with fact
denotative, explicit
in accordance with fact or the primary meaning of a term
unrhetorical
not rhetorical
Antonyms:
figurative, nonliteral
(used of the meanings of words or text) not literal; using figures of speech
analogical
expressing, composed of, or based on an analogy
extended
beyond the literal or primary sense
metaphoric, metaphorical
expressing one thing in terms normally denoting another
metonymic, metonymical
using the name of one thing for that of another with which it is closely associated
poetic
characterized by romantic imagery
synecdochic, synecdochical
using the name of a part for that of the whole or the whole for the part; or the special for the general or the general for the special; or the material for the thing made of it
tropical
characterized by or of the nature of a trope or tropes; changed from its literal sense
rhetorical
given to rhetoric, emphasizing style at the expense of thought
show more antonyms...

adj without interpretation or embellishment

“a literal depiction of the scene before him”
Synonyms:
exact
marked by strict and particular and complete accordance with fact

adj avoiding embellishment or exaggeration (used for emphasis)

“it's the literal truth”
Synonyms:
plain
not elaborate or elaborated; simple

adj being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something

“"a literal solitude like a desert"- G.K.Chesterton”
Synonyms:
actual, genuine, real
true
consistent with fact or reality; not false
2

n a mistake in printed matter resulting from mechanical failures of some kind

Synonyms:
erratum, literal error, misprint, typo, typographical error
Type of:
error, mistake
part of a statement that is not correct

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