1. Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words.
2. Word for word; verbatim: a literal translation.
3. Avoiding exaggeration, metaphor, or embellishment; factual; prosaic: a literal description; a literal mind.
4. Consisting of, using, or expressed by letters: literal notation.
A letter or symbol that stands for itself as opposed to a feature, function, or entity associated with it in a programming language: $ can be a symbol that refers to the end of a line, but as a literal, it is a dollar sign.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin litterālis, of letters, from Latin littera, lītera, letter; see LETTER.]
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