Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of literature?

The definition of literature is written material, particularly that distinguished for its form or content.

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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

Literature is a term that, in its broadest definition, encompasses all written materials. However, some use it to describe works of prose or verse that are notable for their impressive quality of form or ideas. It can also refer to the entire body of writing on a topic (e.g., medical literature). 

Literature derives from the Latin word litteratura, meaning “grammar, a writing.”

George Eliot’s Middlemarch is considered a masterpiece of English literature.

See: prosepoetry

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