One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A learned or literary woman; a female member of the literati.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), poet, critic, and philosopher. Probably partly from classical Latin litterāta (plural litterātae), feminine form corresponding to litterātus, and partly from Italian † literata, † litterata (now letterata, plural letterate), feminine forms corresponding to † literato, † litterato.
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