American Sign Language


Definition of American Sign Language

: a sign language that is used especially for communication by and with deaf people and is the formal sign language of the United States and English-speaking Canada and also serves as the basis for various sign languages in other countries (such as Thailand, Nigeria, and Bolivia) abbreviation ASL

called also Ameslan

Note: American Sign Language was developed in Hartford, Connecticut in the early 1800s.

First Known Use of American Sign Language

1893, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of American Sign Language was in 1893

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Cite this Entry

“American Sign Language.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

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American Sign Language


English Language Learners Definition of American Sign Language

: a kind of sign language used in the U.S. and Canada

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