noun, often attributive \ˈdī-ə-ˌlekt\

: a form of a language that is spoken in a particular area and that uses some of its own words, grammar, and pronunciations

Full Definition of DIALECT

a :  a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language <the Doric dialect of ancient Greek>
b :  one of two or more cognate languages <French and Italian are Romance dialects>
c :  a variety of a language used by the members of a group <such dialects as politics and advertising — Philip Howard>
d :  a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (as social class) <spoke a rough peasant dialect>
e :  register 4c
f :  a version of a computer programming language
:  manner or means of expressing oneself :  phraseology
di·a·lec·tal \ˌdī-ə-ˈlek-təl\ adjective
di·a·lec·tal·ly \-tə-lē\ adverb

Examples of DIALECT

  1. They speak a southern dialect of French.
  2. The author uses dialect in his writing.
  3. The play was hard to understand when the characters spoke in dialect.

Origin of DIALECT

Middle French dialecte, from Latin dialectus, from Greek dialektos conversation, dialect, from dialegesthai to converse — more at dialogue
First Known Use: 1577

Other Language Terms

cognate, collocation, homonym


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Variety of a language spoken by a group of people and having features of vocabulary, grammar, and/or pronunciation that distinguish it from other varieties of the same language. Dialects usually develop as a result of geographic, social, political, or economic barriers between groups of people who speak the same language. When dialects diverge to the point that they are mutually incomprehensible, they become languages in their own right. This was the case with Latin, various dialects of which evolved into the different Romance languages. See also koine.


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