What does illiterate mean?

Definitions for illiterate
ɪˈlɪt ər ɪtil·lit·er·ate

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word illiterate.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. illiterate, illiterate person, nonreaderadjective

    a person unable to read

  2. illiterateadjective

    not able to read or write

  3. ignorant, illiterateadjective

    uneducated in the fundamentals of a given art or branch of learning; lacking knowledge of a specific field

    "she is ignorant of quantum mechanics"; "he is musically illiterate"

  4. illiterateadjective

    lacking culture, especially in language and literature


  1. illiteratenoun

    an illiterate person, one not able to read.

  2. illiterateadjective

    Unable to read and write.

  3. illiterateadjective

    Having less than an expected standard of familiarity with language and literature, or having little formal education.

  4. illiterateadjective

    Not conforming to prescribed standards of speech or writing.

  5. Etymology: Recorded in English since 1556, from illitteratus 'unlearned, ignorant', itself from in- 'un-' + litteratus, literally "furnished with letters" (from littera 'letter, character')

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. ILLITERATEadjective

    Unlettered; untaught; unlearned; unenlightened by science.

    Etymology: illiteratus, Latin.

    The duke was illiterate, yet had learned at court to supply his own defects, by the drawing unto him of the best instruments of experience. Henry Wotton.

    Th' illiterate writer, empirick like, applies
    To minds diseas'd unsafe chance remedies:
    The learn'd in schools, where knowledge first began,
    Studies with care th' anatomy of man;
    Sees virtue, vice, and passions in their cause,
    And fame from science, not from fortune draws. Dryden.

    In the first ages of Christianity not only the learned and the wise, but the ignorant and illiterate embraced torments and death. John Tillotson, Sermons.


  1. illiterate

    Literacy in its broadest sense describes "particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing" with the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in written form in some specific context of use. In other words, humans in literate societies have sets of practices for producing and consuming writing, and they also have beliefs about these practices. Reading, in this view, is always reading something for some purpose; writing is always writing something for someone for some particular ends. Beliefs about reading and writing and its value for society and for the individual always influence the ways literacy is taught, learned, and practiced over the lifespan. Some researchers suggest that the history of interest in the concept of "literacy" can be divided into two periods. Firstly is the period before 1950, when literacy was understood solely as alphabetical literacy (word and letter recognition). Secondly is the period after 1950, when literacy slowly began to be considered as a wider concept and process, including the social and cultural aspects of reading and writing, and functional literacy.


  1. illiterate

    Illiterate refers to a person who is unable to read or write. Furthermore, it can also be applied to someone who has little or no knowledge or experience in a particular field or subject.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Illiterateadjective

    ignorant of letters or books; unlettered; uninstructed; uneducated; as, an illiterate man, or people

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Illiterate

    il-lit′ėr-āt, adj. not learned: uninstructed: ignorant.—n.pl. a term used to designate those persons who are unable to read or write or both.—adv. Illit′erately.—ns. Illit′erateness, Illit′eracy, state of being illiterate: want of learning.

How to pronounce illiterate?

How to say illiterate in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of illiterate in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of illiterate in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of illiterate in a Sentence

  1. Raffaele Petralla:

    Maybe there's no way to escape, i think most of them are not educated, they are illiterate people, and they don't know how they can escape from this situation.

  2. Angie Motshekga:

    People who are still innumerate and illiterate are pushed forward until they find that they are so far behind that they have no choice but to drop out.

  3. James Scott:

    The disturbingly techno-illiterate and cyber-hygienically lackadaisical and shockingly arrogant responses by the National Association of Secretaries of States when we at ICIT repeatedly showed them what their vulnerabilities were and exactly how elections could be compromised is a betrayal of trust to offer safe and legitimate elections. The technical vulnerabilities littering our election systems is only part of the problem.

  4. Carl Burkybile:

    What we teach is very simple, but it’s life changing and even lifesaving, we’re always looking for ways to reach new people. The videos are exciting because illiterate farmers can learn how to do these things.

  5. Alvin Toffler:

    The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

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Translations for illiterate

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"illiterate." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 3 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/illiterate>.

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    immoderately desirous of acquiring e.g. wealth
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