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

  • adj. Having no written language; preliterate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Not literate; illiterate
  • n. A nonliterate person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. not using a writing system; -- of societies, cultures, or tribes.

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

  • adj. used of a society that has not developed writing


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • People from poor, oppressed, traditionally nonliterate Asian communities perform similarly to people from poor, oppressed, traditionally nonliterate African communities.

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  • Her previous work in nonliterate communities had shown her that children who go to school regularly seem to acquire, without even realizing it, specific techniques that might help them do well on the kinds of memory tasks used in IQ tests.

    Red Flags or Red Herrings?

  • The successfully Americanized mother stereotype posed as sure a threat to her children as did the nonliterate immigrant.

    Stereotypes in the United States.

  • One answer may be an increasingly "nonliterate culture," as historian Diane Ravitch of New York University puts it.

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  • On the other hand, the landdag and its symbols served in the place of writs and contracts, so that the actions of the nonliterate elders could be ordered and coordinated by the governor and the Council.

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  • On the day she finally decided to tell me about her own tattoos, Rosalina Malungana, the Swiss Mission-educated woman who, as we saw in chapter 3, reminisced so romantically about her common-law marriage to a Portuguese truck driver, acknowledged one source of conflict in their relationship that stemmed from Rosalina's desire to befriend her new non-Christian and nonliterate neighbors in Chibuto:

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  • Literacy and Christianity, for example, have given even nonliterate, non-churchgoing women new vocabulary and symbols for conceptualizing, and sometimes contesting, local practices and meanings related to traditional feminine qualities, duties, and roles.

    Where Women Make History: Gendered Tellings of Community and Change in Magude, Mozambique

  • For the most part, these indigenous maps are not artifactual ones, at least not in the sense that Western-trained researchers are likely to recognize (e.g., lines and symbols on paper); in this largely nonliterate agrarian society, such forms of cartography have not generally been necessary, even to the ruling elites of precolonial polities.

    Where Women Make History: Gendered Tellings of Community and Change in Magude, Mozambique

  • Initially, historians tended to use oral history as a way to fill in facts and evidence, particularly in nonliterate societies, where there was no written record, or, within literate societies, in groups that had tended to be excluded from the written record; they tended to use oral history as

    'I Saw a Nightmare …' Doing Violence to Memory: The Soweto Uprising, June 16, 1976

  • This brings up a highly relevant, if obvious point regarding such paintings' effect on a nonliterate audience: If they couldn't read the text in the painting and most of them could not, they couldn't read the book the text came from, either.

    Archive 2006-08-01


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