A string in literal terms is a series of characters.

What is the meaning of "in literal terms"? What can be used instead of that phrase. Please answer with some examples.


It means literally:

A string, literally, is a series of characters.

Compare this with the expression in simple terms which in literal terms is just a variant of:

A string, in simple terms, is just a series of characters.

A string is simply a series of characters.

Although it's positioned slightly differently in the sentence for the purposes of making it sound more smoothly, the principle is exactly the same.

  • 1
    I believe you're sort of off the mark when you say in simple terms is just a variant of in literal terms. I mean, they're similar but it's not quite a variant – it's something completely different. Furthermore, in literal terms is not that common at all, so it's hardly a variant in that sense either. In literal terms means "literally". In this case, the author is mistaken as string doesn't literally mean a sequence of characters in common parlance, anyway (that's more of a technical meaning used in computer science).
    – user3395
    Jun 24 '18 at 13:01
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    I think Michael hits very close to the mark with simple here, though I would say simplest. Jun 25 '18 at 12:47

The word literal in computing is used literally, but in general conversation literal is used figuratively, even though its general meaning is "not figurative". :)

literal in this narrow technical sense means "consisting of letters".

The author might be playing on this.

"A literal string" aka "a string literal" in computing refers to a series of letters (i.e. characters).

abcde is a "string" that consists of the literals a, b, c, d, and e.

So we might paraphrase literal there as raw.

In raw terms, a string is a series of characters.

And thus simplest would be a decent paraphrase too.

In simplest terms, a string is a series of characters.

  • 2
    While I think you're raising some valid points, I think you may be reading a bit too much into this. You might want to take into consideration that the author most likely isn't a native speaker of English and, while entirely possible, they're probably not making a sort of pun you're suggesting on string literals. Further, a string literal in Java (as per The Java Language Specification (SE7)) is defined as "[consisting] of zero or more characters enclosed in double quotes." I wouldn't deviate from that definition.
    – user3395
    Jun 24 '18 at 14:36
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    quite some more is probably a good indication that the author is not English or American. But that doesn't mean that the author is unaware that literal means something different in computing than it does generally. And I said "computing" not "java", so that "definition" in SE7 is not relevant. It's also not a definition but an instruction about how to represent a string literal in source code. Jun 24 '18 at 14:46

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