from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The condition of being unable to read and write.
  • n. An error, as in writing or speech, made by or thought to be characteristic of one who is illiterate. See Usage Note at literate.
  • n. The condition or quality of being ignorant or unknowledgeable in a particular subject or field: cultural illiteracy; scientific illiteracy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The inability to read.
  • n. The portion of a population unable to read, generally given as a percentage.
  • n. A word, phrase, or grammatical turn thought to be characteristic of an illiterate person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The state of being illiterate, or uneducated; lack of learning, or knowledge; ignorance; specifically, inability to read and write.
  • n. An instance of ignorance; a literary blunder.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The state of being illiterate; ignorance of letters; absence of education.
  • n. An error in the use of letters; a literal or a literary error.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. ignorance resulting from not reading
  • n. an inability to read


in- +‎ literacy (Wiktionary)



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  • Our real illiteracy is our inability to create.

    (Friedensreich Hundertwasser, painter and architect)

    September 17, 2009

  • The phrase ' The 3 R's ' ( standing for 'reading, writing and arithmetic' ) was created by Sir William Curtis, who was illiterate.

    May 7, 2008