Dictionaries say both 'literally' and 'literarily' could be adverb, but they say nothing about the usage of literarily.

So, what would be the differences in usage for these two words?

  • 1
    What "dictionaries" say this? It's wrong: literarily is the adverb form of literary. Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 23:59
  • @StoneyB, oops, I will update my question. Basically, I just want to ask the differences between these two words.
    – dan
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


Though they may seem similar, they are actually not that related to each other.

literally means that something means exactly what it says:

in the literal or strict sense: She failed to grasp the metaphor and interpreted the poem literally. source

literarily means something in relation to books or literature:

In a literary manner. source

See also the Oxford definition.

It may be worth noting that literally is much more used than literarily and will therefore be more important to learn for those who are learning English.

  • 1
    It's worth noting that literally is hundreds of times more common than literarily, so while learners will definitely need to know literally, they might not really need literarily.
    – user230
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 0:20
  • @Maxion, Do you really use literarily in practice? It seems to me that most of time we just use literally. What's the difference indeed between literally and literarily?
    – dan
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 0:51
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    @dan, as they answer says, these two words don't have any special relationship. An example of literarily: "Proust is known for writing literarily."
    – The Photon
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 1:15
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    @dan, it can mean "in a literary manner" as in this answer, or "in a way related to literary matters", as in the examples at oxford dictionaries linked by Maxion in comments. It never means the same thing as literally.
    – The Photon
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 3:06

"Literarily" goes deeper than "literally" because, the former is associated with deeper information gained from books or literature while the latter is simply a metaphor meaning the exact or face-value interpretation of something being said.

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