Aliteracy vs. Illiteracy - What's the difference?


  • Aliteracy

    Aliteracy (sometimes spelled alliteracy) is the state of being able to read but being uninterested in doing so. This phenomenon has been reported on as a problem occurring separately from illiteracy, which is more common in the developing world, while aliteracy is primarily a problem in the developed world. In 2002, John Ramsey defined aliteracy as a loss of a reading habit usually since reading is slow and frustrating for the reader.

  • Illiteracy

    Literacy is traditionally meant as the ability to read and write. The modern term's meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge, solve mathematical problems and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture. The concept of literacy is expanding in OECD countries to include skills to access knowledge through technology and ability to assess complex contexts. A person who travels and resides in a foreign country but is unable to read or write in the language of the host country would also be regarded by the locals as being illiterate. The key to literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding of text. Reading development involves a range of complex language underpinnings including awareness of speech sounds (phonology), spelling patterns (orthography), word meaning (semantics), grammar (syntax) and patterns of word formation (morphology), all of which provide a necessary platform for reading fluency and comprehension. Once these skills are acquired, the reader can attain full language literacy, which includes the abilities to apply to printed material critical analysis, inference and synthesis; to write with accuracy and coherence; and to use information and insights from text as the basis for informed decisions and creative thought. The inability to do so is called illiteracy or analphabetism.The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society".


  • Aliteracy (noun)

    The state of having the ability to read, but lacking interest in doing so.

  • Illiteracy (noun)

    The inability to read and write.

    "Illiteracy is widespread in certain areas of the country."

  • Illiteracy (noun)

    The portion of a population unable to read and write, generally given as a percentage.

  • Illiteracy (noun)

    A word, phrase{{,}} or grammatical turn thought to be characteristic of an illiterate person.

Webster Dictionary

  • Illiteracy (noun)

    The state of being illiterate, or uneducated; lack of learning, or knowledge; ignorance; specifically, inability to read and write; as, the illiteracy shown by the last census.

  • Illiteracy (noun)

    An instance of ignorance; a literary blunder.

Princeton's WordNet

  • Illiteracy (noun)

    ignorance resulting from not reading

  • Illiteracy (noun)

    an inability to read


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