Definition of non-literal in English:

non-literal

adjective

  • Not using or taking words in their usual or most basic sense:

    ‘young children and foreigners may not at first understand these non-literal meanings’
    • ‘By means of usage criteria such passages could be interpreted as metaphors, or in other non-literal ways, ensuring the overall validity and coherence of the sacred language in which the texts were recorded.’
    • ‘The aesthetic aspect of non-literal texts recalls the poetic function in that it makes the text's form as much a feature of content as is its restituted message.’
    • ‘It would be disingenuous to call The Family Fang straightforward, but the novel isn't fantastical, non-literal, fabulistic, etc., as many of your short stories have been.’
    • ‘However, the younger generations in the Church have grown up with the belief in billions of years and a non-literal approach to Genesis.’
    • ‘Young children and foreigners may not at first understand these non-literal meanings since they are conventions which are learned through socialization in a community of native English speakers, just as Javanese children are taught how to use the various speech levels.’
    • ‘A four-year-old child is genuinely creative and is starting to learn about non-literal concepts.’
    • ‘It was a truthful answer, and it kept me from putting more non-literal body parts in my mouth.’
    • ‘The author's examination of the US literal and non-literal copying cases is clear and helpful.’
    • ‘For example, we say "The kettle is boiling" when we mean "The water is boiling", and native speakers learn when to allow for a non-literal or metaphorical interpretation of certain words and phrases.’
    • ‘We have very little in the text to go on to know how to interpret these phrases or sentences, and most of the references are in the poetic literature, where we should be on the alert for non-literal language.’