Synonyms of literature in English:



  • 1 English literature
    written works, writings, writing, creative writing, literary texts, compositions
    informal lit



It's interesting how the original English meaning of this word is surfacing again. When it arrived in the language, in the 14th century, it had a general sense of ‘acquaintance with books’ or ‘literary culture’—a sense which the Oxford English Dictionary glosses as “now rare and obsolescent.” It was overtaken in the 18th century by the familiar modern use—for the written output of professional creative writers. But the earliest sense has returned, as is evident from the author listings at any literary festival, where we find politicians, scientists, philosophers, and all kinds of cultural commentators alongside novelists, poets, and dramatists. Literature is big business these days. It has even generated its own abbreviation: lit, as in English Lit, lit crit, and chick lit. But beware, when you encounter lit in earlier centuries. The modern usage didn't arise until the 1850s. So when we read in 1662 of a writer going into “a litt-hows,” he wasn't thinking about books. Lit is also a medieval word for ‘hue’ or ‘stain.’ He was going to get some cloth dyed.
David Crystal

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