a. Unable to read and write.
b. Having little or no formal education.
a. Marked by inferiority to an expected standard of familiarity with language and literature: an illiterate magazine.
b. Violating prescribed standards of speech or writing: a paragraph with several illiterate expressions.
3. Ignorant of the fundamentals of a given art or branch of knowledge: musically illiterate. See Usage Note at literate.
1. A person who is illiterate.
2. (used with a pl. verb) People who are illiterate, considered as a group.
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.