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adjective ver·nac·u·lar \və(r)-ˈna-kyə-lər\

Simple Definition of vernacular

  • : of, relating to, or using the language of ordinary speech rather than formal writing

  • : of or relating to the common style of a particular time, place, or group

Full Definition of vernacular

  1. 1 a :  using a language or dialect native to a region or country rather than a literary, cultured, or foreign language b :  of, relating to, or being a nonstandard language or dialect of a place, region, or country c :  of, relating to, or being the normal spoken form of a language

  2. 2 :  applied to a plant or animal in the common native speech as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification <the vernacular name>

  3. 3 :  of, relating to, or characteristic of a period, place, or group; especially :  of, relating to, or being the common building style of a period or place <vernacular architecture>

ver·nac·u·lar·ly adverb

Examples of vernacular

  1. While there are American operas galore, some of which are quite good indeed, there is no vernacular opera tradition in America—instead, we have musical comedy—and now that supertitles have become standard equipment at major American opera houses, the chances that those houses will start regularly performing foreign-language operas in English translation have dropped from slim to none. —Terry Teachout, New York Times Book Review, 9 Nov. 1997

  2. Native crafts, the use of local materials, and vernacular buildings were considered integral to each country's heritage, and their preservation and revival became part of the movement to forge a strong national identity. —Wendy Kaplan, Antiques, October 1995

  3. For the proliferation of rich vernacular literatures in the twelfth century secured the place of the vulgar tongues in European society, and this entrenchment of the vernacular tongues made the European peoples more conscious of being separated from each other; decreased the cosmopolitan attitudes of the European nobility; and encouraged xenophobia, which became common in the thirteenth century. —Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, 1993

  4. Hurricanes, fires and economic development unfortunately have caused many examples of both vernacular and more classical architecture to disappear over the years. —Suzanne Stephens, Architectural Digest, 1 Aug. 1990

  5. the vernacular architecture of the region

  6. <writes essays in a very easy-to-read, vernacular style>

Origin of vernacular

Latin vernaculus native, from verna slave born in the master's house, native

First Known Use: 1601

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

Rhymes with vernacular



noun ver·nac·u·lar \və(r)-ˈna-kyə-lər\

Simple Definition of vernacular

  • : the language of ordinary speech rather than formal writing

Full Definition of vernacular

  1. 1 :  a vernacular language, expression, or mode of expression :  an expression or mode of expression that occurs in ordinary speech rather than formal writing

  2. 2 :  the mode of expression of a group or class

  3. 3 :  a common name of a plant or animal as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification :  a vernacular name of a plant or animal

Examples of vernacular

  1. But ask baseball people about [Michael] Young, and they'll admiringly tell you that he is a “grinder,” vernacular for a player who works his butt off. —Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated, 8 May 2006

  2. … the sources for [Cole] Porter's chromaticism and syncopation are the vernacular of black music in America. —Stephen Brown, Times Literary Supplement, 21 Jan. 2005

  3. For Lu Xun helped revolutionize Chinese writing, tugging the written language toward the vernacular so that it was easier to learn, and he even endorsed the heresy of abandoning Chinese characters for the Roman alphabet so that literacy could spread more easily. —Amy Hempel, New York Times Book Review, 19 Aug. 1990

  4. New Mexico is not the easiest region in the country for an architect to establish a practice in. It is not that the area is indifferent to architecture—it is more that the traditional south-western architectural vernacular is so awe-inspiring that it tends to overwhelm most efforts to create a credible personal voice. —Paul Goldberger, Architectural Digest, October 1986

  5. What was required was a vagrant and a visionary, a man of mystic recklessness. The man who dared point the way would have to use the vernacular, and not speak but shriek. Paracelsus (1493–1541) was suspect in his day, and never lost his reputation as a charlatan. —Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983

  6. He spoke in the vernacular of an urban teenager.

  7. phrases that occur in the common vernacular

Origin of vernacular

(see 1vernacular)

First Known Use: 1661

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

Seen and Heard

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February 5, 2016

bread traditionally eaten on Shabbat

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