Etymology
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literature (n.)

early 15c., "book-learning," from Latin literatura/litteratura "learning, a writing, grammar," originally "writing formed with letters," from litera/littera "alphabetic letter" also "an epistle, writing, document; literature, great books; science, learning" (see letter (n.1)). In English originally "book learning" (in which sense it replaced Old English boccræft); the meaning "activity of a writer, the profession of a literary writer" is first attested 1779 in Johnson's "Lives of the English Poets;" that of "literary productions as a whole, body of writings from a period or people" is first recorded 1812.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. [Ezra Pound, "ABC of Reading"]

Meaning "the whole of the writing on a particular subject" is by 1860; sense of "printed matter generally" is from 1895. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish literatura, Italian letteratura, German Literatur.

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lit (n.2)
colloquial shortening of literature, attested by 1850.
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gaydar (n.)
by 1996, in gay literature, from gay + radar.
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subplot (n.)
also sub-plot, 1812 in literature, from sub- + plot (n.).
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romanticist (n.)

"one imbued with romanticism" in literature, arts, etc., 1821; see romantic + -ist.

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bibliology (n.)
"book-lore," 1804, from French bibliologie; see biblio- + -logy. By 1871 as "Biblical literature."
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hagiology (n.)
"branch of literature consisting of saints' lives and legends," 1807, from hagio- "holy" + -ology. Related: Hagiologist (1805).
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belles-lettres (n.)
"elegant literature, literature as fine art," 1710, French, literally "fine letters," from belles, plural of belle, fem. of beau "fine, beautiful" (see beau) + lettres, plural of lettre "letter" (see letter (n.)). The literary equivalent of beaux arts; its boundaries never have been exact, and it is "now generally applied (when used at all) to the lighter branches of literature, or the æsthetics of literary study" [OED].
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Augustan (adj.)
1640s, from Latin Augustanus, "pertaining to Augustus (Caesar)," whose reign (31 B.C.E.-14 C.E.) was connected with "the palmy period of Latin literature" [OED]; hence, "period of purity and refinement in any national literature" (1712); in French, the reign of Louis XIV; in English, that of Queen Anne.
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letters (n.)
"the profession of authorship or literature," mid-13c., from plural of letter (n.); as in Latin, French. Man of letters attested from 1640s.
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