Definition of literate in English:



  • 1Able to read and write.

    ‘their parents were uneducated and barely literate’
    • ‘The written form of Arabic is the same for all literate Arabs (those able to read and write), regardless of how different their spoken dialects are.’
    • ‘By reading aloud, a literate person engages a child in language as they sit together, relaxed and quiet.’
    • ‘In the case of English the answer is obvious: everyone in today's society needs to be literate and able to communicate well.’
    • ‘And like all learning, becoming literate is a lifelong process.’
    • ‘Most of us are familiar with the concept of literacy as it applies to reading and writing and it is generally accepted that being literate means being able to decipher the written word and compose written work.’
    • ‘More than 80 percent of its population is literate, and life expectancy is over 70 years.’
    • ‘To suggest that the number of monks who were actually literate is quite small should not be taken to mean that they had no experience with literacy or were completely unlearned.’
    • ‘Even those already literate in English adjusted to the new Creole system within five minutes.’
    • ‘Some of the more literate ones did write down a few particulars soon after the fracas in letters to friends and relatives.’
    • ‘Indeed, in such a literate society the ability to read and write had become a major social fault line.’
    • ‘This was especially so among the clergy, many of whom were barely literate.’
    • ‘As for the Roman empire, he argues that a high degree of literacy can only be assumed for the urban upper classes and that only a few artisans and traders and even fewer farmers and rural workers would have been literate.’
    • ‘If society at large became more literate then the clergy could more readily be recruited from the laity; they did not have to remain what they had come close to being, a hereditary caste.’
    • ‘At the beginning of the 18th century only ten per cent of the people were literate in Wales, but revival brought change.’
    • ‘To return to the slave narratives, they are in themselves very revealing of the scepticism directed toward the literate slave both in their own time and in our histories of them.’
    • ‘A thousand years ago, technology severely limited the amount of words the average literate person could read in a lifetime.’
    • ‘Within a few years, most Cherokees had become literate in their own language.’
    • ‘A modern state needed a population literate in the official language, and a population that was disciplined either by religious instruction or by a secular civic morality.’
    • ‘At present most literate Africans can read English or French.’
    • ‘The printing press didn't abolish war, but it did create a literate population that was able to educate itself.’
    able to read and write
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    1. 1.1 Having education or knowledge, typically in a specified area.
      ‘we need people who are economically and politically literate’
      • ‘I think comparative religion is a wonderful study, and we should be more theologically literate than we are.’
      • ‘That ability to create empathy is another mark of a spiritually literate movie.’
      • ‘The productive sector of the economy of any industrial nation demands a scientifically literate labor force.’
      • ‘As you would expect from such a literate, well travelled and much experienced man, the brief author's note at the end is full of good stuff.’
      • ‘Having a technically literate family is a blessing.’
      • ‘Books of literate and entertaining essays on occasional topics - what used to be called belles-lettres - are no longer common, and that is a shame.’
      • ‘The ensemble playing is lock tight, the soloists are eloquent; the seven pieces (five of them composed by group members) are literate and stimulating.’
      • ‘The most key ingredient is a scientifically literate work force and general population.’
      • ‘When the person loses the capability to derive and create meaning in a culturally significant way, he or she becomes less, not more, literate.’
      • ‘But is it not the case that literature supersedes history, as one of the ultimate signifiers in a universe literate in necessary layers of meanings?’
      • ‘Why is it so hard to find a moderately theologically literate reporter?’
      • ‘I enjoyed reading the transcripts of David's well-crafted, highly literate speeches.’
      • ‘Today, many moviegoers have become psychologically literate, and Hollywood reflects this change.’
      • ‘The means to accomplish this were literate sermons, adhering closely to the liturgy of the church; catechising the young; and administering the sacraments.’
      • ‘In fact, they benefited greatly from the studies and were encouraged to become more biblically literate.’
      • ‘From her novels, I thought she was considerably more theologically literate and orthodox.’
      • ‘I want to make Maine the most digitally literate society on Earth.’
      • ‘To ensure that all theories meet these standards, it is essential that people be sufficiently scientifically literate.’
      • ‘And this is the portion of the population who are computer literate.’
      • ‘And the book turns out to be intelligent, literate, and thoughtful.’
      educated, well educated, well read, widely read, scholarly, learned, schooled, knowledgeable, intellectual, intelligent, erudite, lettered, cultured, cultivated, sophisticated, well informed
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  • A literate person.

    • ‘If these were wanton act of miscreants, one incident that took place inside the Government Medical College campus on Thursday has proved that even the literates are not bothered to ‘rescue’ a roadside tree from being consumed by flames.’
    • ‘They understand much better than the literates.’
    • ‘If we turn to the faithful OED, the word is said to date back to the eighteenth century and was used by the great literates of Swift and Dickens.’
    • ‘The legislation of family norms can bring results only among literates who are already aware of the consequences of large families.’
    • ‘The project also generates employment for computer literates.’
    • ‘It is true language changes over time but its development must be driven by the literate if cohesion is to be maintained.’
    • ‘It is not necessary that all literates and even ‘top officials’ are aware of traffic rules.’
    • ‘The computer literates should take the lead in teaching and convincing others about the ease in learning how to use computers, as a starting point for instilling in the people the desire to use, work and play with the Internet.’
    • ‘Nothing in our commonly purveyed literacy mythology suggests this is the State with the largest number of literates in India.’
    • ‘Shared experience beyond these things would have involved, for the literate among them, the Bible, or oft-recited poems and some popular books.’
    • ‘Computer literates will also be helped to learn more in information technology, so as to leverage it more in their careers.’
    • ‘Today, news is communicated to the literates and neo-literates.’
    • ‘And though I am a writer myself, I am not referring to the media of the written word - because the literate are all too often the most persuadable of the virtues of a dialogue across all kinds of boundaries.’
    • ‘But for the illiterates and even many literates, who throng the Collectorate seeking assistance, their services are indispensable.’
    • ‘The government retained the monopolies on salt and iron, but it became clear that many of the Confucian literates saw his actions for what they truly were.’
    • ‘The place is full of young men actively engaged in becoming literate, and of older ones among whom the proportion of literates is relatively high.’
    • ‘In 1991, there had been 13.6 million literates or about 39 per cent of Rajasthanis over the age of seven.’
    • ‘These were programmes where literates, semi-literates and illiterates were to participate.’
    • ‘You don't have to be a literate to know the wiser option.’
    • ‘The next generations will have even fewer mathematical literates in an ever increasing spiralling down of performance and expectations and Australia's technological performance will be equally constrained.’


Late Middle English: from Latin litteratus, from littera (see letter).