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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Literal \Lit"er*al\ (l[i^]t"[~e]r*al), a. [F. lit['e]ral, litt['e]ral, L. litteralis, literalis, fr. littera, litera, a letter. See Letter.] 1. According to the letter or verbal expression; real; not figurative or metaphorical; as, the literal meaning of a phrase. [1913 Webster] It hath but one simple literal sense whose light the owls can not abide. --Tyndale. [1913 Webster] 2. Following the letter or exact words; not free. [1913 Webster] A middle course between the rigor of literal translations and the liberty of paraphrasts. --Hooker. [1913 Webster] 3. Consisting of, or expressed by, letters. [1913 Webster] The literal notation of numbers was known to Europeans before the ciphers. --Johnson. [1913 Webster] 4. Giving a strict or literal construction; unimaginative; matter-of-fact; -- applied to persons. [1913 Webster] Literal contract (Law), a contract of which the whole evidence is given in writing. --Bouvier. Literal equation (Math.), an equation in which known quantities are expressed either wholly or in part by means of letters; -- distinguished from a numerical equation. [1913 Webster]