Meaning of literal

lit•er•al

Pronunciation: (lit'ur-ul), [key]
— adj.
  1. in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word.
  2. following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation of Goethe.
  3. true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
  4. being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
  5. (of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic.
  6. of or pertaining to the letters of the alphabet.
  7. of the nature of letters.
  8. expressed by letters.
  9. affecting a letter or letters: a literal error.
—n.
  1. a typographical error, esp. involving a single letter.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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