Definition of illiterate in English:

illiterate

Line breaks: il¦lit¦er|ate
Pronunciation: /ɪˈlɪt(ə)rət
 
/

adjective

1Unable to read or write: his parents were illiterate
More example sentences
  • In Uganda, among those aged fifteen years and over, about 50 percent are illiterate (unable to read or write).
  • Children were not allowed to attend public schools and many were illiterate; reading and writing being ‘unnatural’ technologies that would corrupt the children.
  • In addition, many South Africans were illiterate, and unable to read news reports of proceedings.
Synonyms
1.1 [with submodifier] Ignorant in a particular subject or activity: the extent to which voters are politically illiterate
More example sentences
  • Couple a scientifically illiterate public with activist groups well-versed in scare tactics and what do you get?
  • Indeed, as I have wondered elsewhere, how long will Americans endure the arrogance and ignorance of their own technically illiterate politicians?
  • That they were able to do so handily and with a backward and politically illiterate film star as their standard bearer only underscores the dimensions of the Democratic collapse.
Synonyms
1.2(Of a piece of writing) showing a lack of education; badly written: as you can see, I have corrected your misspelt, illiterate letter
More example sentences
  • Then he disparaged my writing for being too illiterate for some but too literate for others.
  • Even in 1935 they were being sent an ‘astonishing amount of illiterate and unintelligent writing’, but practised readers spent little time on it.
  • Is it any wonder that our K - 12 education system is in such bad shape when such an illiterate, antiquated report has been circulated and used for more than a decade?

noun

Back to top  
A person who is unable to read or write.
More example sentences
  • This reminds me of a quote from Italo Calvino (who was most certainly literate): ‘The ratio of literacy to illiteracy is constant, but now the illiterates can read.’
  • Without history you find yourself like illiterates who can't read the present.
  • The Merovingian kings were not boorish illiterates, but were able to read and write.

Origin

late Middle English: from Latin illitteratus, from in- 'not' + litteratus (see literate).

Phrases

functionally illiterate

Lacking the literacy necessary for coping with most jobs and many everyday situations.
More example sentences
  • A recent video released by the American Medical Association reported that about onehalf of Americans have low health literacy and one-fifth are functionally illiterate.
  • Many were illiterate or functionally illiterate in Spanish.
  • Several of these parents were either illiterate or functionally illiterate in Spanish and did not speak English.

Derivatives

illiterately

adverb
More example sentences
  • But, as usual, Jack displayed the irony of his many advanced education degrees and illiterately misread the map.
  • They tell their own story, simply; sometimes ungrammatically and illiterately, but nevertheless irresistibly.
  • The degree of hateful violence expressed here by the anti-hunters, albeit nearly illiterately, is frightening.

illiterateness

noun
More example sentences
  • I even make fun of her illiterateness on trains.

Definition of illiterate in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day keek
Pronunciation: kiːk
verb
peep surreptitiously