Definition of preliterate in English:



  • Relating to or denoting a society or culture that has not developed the use of writing.

    ‘preliterate myths and rituals’
    • ‘In preliterate agricultural societies, religion suffuses every aspect of life, from the family to the workplace.’
    • ‘He travelled to a remote, preliterate culture (the Fore, in New Guinea) to ensure that the subjects had not seen Western photographs or films, and so could never have learned Western emotions.’
    • ‘A cross-cultural survey of the use of ethanol in 139 largely preliterate human societies, showed that in all societies in which drinking was present in one sex but not in the other, it was present in males.’
    • ‘In ancient times, even in preliterate times, they must have been recorded in some form or another.’
    • ‘In a preliterate world, there's no distinction between children and adults.’
    • ‘In a systematic study of more than a dozen cultures, including a preliterate culture in New Guinea, he found a nearly universal language of facial expression for the emotions of anger, sadness, disgust, enjoyment, and surprise.’
    • ‘‘He had taken a very early portable video camera to film the Yanomami Healing, a preliterate Amazonian tribe,’ says Talen.’
    • ‘Their individual and collective endeavors were thwarted by the machinations of powerful men, institutions, and a tradition-bound, preliterate society.’
    • ‘For example, Hutchins showed that the preliterate Micronesians employed an abstract navigational system that used the stars symbolically.’
    • ‘The Greek myths evolved a long time before they were ever written down, and originated in the preliterate cultures pre-2300 BC.’
    • ‘The answer is a resounding no - preliterate people classify animals and plants into crude categories like ‘big’ and ‘small.’’
    • ‘In the preliterate days and among the peasants much later, folk songs, legends, poetry, jokes, and riddles were important artistic expressions.’
    • ‘The remarkable funeral seems to emerge from a collective preliterate tradition whose origins are African and whose inspiration to freedom arises from the natural world.’
    • ‘It is instructive to look at preliterate societies, where literacy and standardization have been more recently introduced, to see how different languages begin to acquire prestige and others are devalued.’
    View synonyms