lit·er·a·ture (lĭtər-ə-chr′, -chər)
1. The body of written works of a language, period, or culture.
2. Imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value: "Literature must be an analysis of experience and a synthesis of the findings into a unity" (Rebecca West).
3. The art or occupation of a literary writer.
4. The body of written work produced by scholars or researchers in a given field: medical literature.
5. Printed material: collected all the available literature on the subject.
6. Music All the compositions of a certain kind or for a specific instrument or ensemble: the symphonic literature.
[Middle English, book learning, from Old French litterature, from Latin litterātūra, from litterātus, lettered; see LITERATE.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.