Etymology
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literate (adj.)
"educated, instructed, having knowledge of letters," early 15c., from Latin literatus/litteratus "educated, learned, who knows the letters;" formed in imitation of Greek grammatikos from Latin littera/litera "alphabetic letter" (see letter (n.1)). By late 18c. especially "acquainted with literature." As a noun, "one who can read and write," 1894.
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literacy (n.)
"ability to read and write," 1883, from literate + abstract noun suffix -cy. Illiteracy, however, dates back to 17c.
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literati (n.)
"men and women of letters; the learned class as a whole," 1620s, noun use of Latin literati/litterati, plural of literatus/litteratus "educated, learned" (see literate). The proper singular would be literatus (fem. literata), though Italian literato sometimes is used in English.
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illiterate (adj.)

early 15c., "uneducated, unable to read and write" (originally meaning Latin), from Latin illiteratus "unlearned, unlettered, ignorant; without culture, inelegant," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + literatus "educated," literally "furnished with letters" (see literate). Old English used unstæfwis as a loan-translation of Latin illiteratus. As a noun meaning "illiterate person" from 1620s. Hence, illiterati (1788, Horace Walpole).

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lettered (adj.)
"literate, learned in letters," c. 1300, from letter (n.1). Meaning "inscribed" is from 1660s, from letter (v.).
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nite (n.)

arbitrary respelling of night, attested by 1920. OED calls it "A widespread vulgarism." It appears earlier in humorous representations of semi-literate spelling.

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computer (n.)

1640s, "one who calculates, a reckoner, one whose occupation is to make arithmetical calculations," agent noun from compute (v.).

Meaning "calculating machine" (of any type) is from 1897; in modern use, "programmable digital electronic device for performing mathematical or logical operations," 1945 under this name (the thing itself was described by 1937 in a theoretical sense as Turing machine). ENIAC (1946) usually is considered the first.

Computer literacy is recorded from 1970; an attempt to establish computerate (adjective, on model of literate) in this sense in the early 1980s didn't catch on. Computerese "the jargon of programmers" is from 1960, as are computerize and computerization.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A New York Congressman says the use of computers to record personal data on individuals, such as their credit background, "is just frightening to me." [news article, March 17, 1968]

Earlier words for "one who calculates" include computator (c. 1600), from Latin computator; computist (late 14c.) "one skilled in calendrical or chronological reckoning."

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reference (n.)

1580s, "act of referring" (some matter, to someone for consideration), from refer + -ance, or else from French référence, from Medieval Latin *referentia, from Latin referentem (nominative referens), present participle of referre.

Meaning "direction to a book or passage" where certain information may be found is recorded from 1610s. By 1837 as "one who or that which may be referred to." The meaning "testimonial" is from 1895. Reference book , a dictionary, encyclopedia, or similar book intended to be consulted as occasion requires, dates from 1808; reference library is by 1834. Phrase in reference to is attested from 1590s. "By slipshod extension, the word is often now made to mean a person to whom r[eference] is permitted as a witness to character, & even a written testimonial" [Fowler, 1926]. The earlier word for "one who gives characters for people seeking employment" was referee (1862) but this word had a bad savor, of literate accomplices of professional beggars and thieves.

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