lan·​guage | \ ˈlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce language (audio) , -wij\

Definition of language

1a : the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community studied the French language
b(1) : audible, articulate, meaningful sound as produced by the action of the vocal organs
(2) : a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings the language of mathematics
(3) : the suggestion by objects, actions, or conditions of associated ideas or feelings language in their very gesture— William Shakespeare
(4) : the means by which animals communicate the language of birds
(5) : a formal system of signs and symbols (such as FORTRAN or a calculus in logic) including rules for the formation and transformation of admissible expressions
2a : form or manner of verbal expression specifically : style the beauty of Shakespeare's language
b : the vocabulary and phraseology belonging to an art or a department of knowledge the language of diplomacy medical language
c : profanity shouldn't of blamed the fellers if they'd cut loose with some language— Ring Lardner
3 : the study of language especially as a school subject earned a grade of B in language
4 : specific words especially in a law or regulation The police were diligent in enforcing the language of the law.

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Examples of language in a Sentence

How many languages do you speak? French is her first language. The book has been translated into several languages. He's learning English as a second language. a new word that has recently entered the language the formal language of the report the beauty of Shakespeare's language She expressed her ideas using simple and clear language. He is always careful in his use of language.
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Recent Examples on the Web

At the time, movies in the local Yakut language barely existed. The Economist, "The pitfalls of making movies in Siberia," 13 July 2019 In the obvious sense this might be true, but creation and change in language tend to be organic — created in response to an existing need, and largely unconscious. Declan Leary, National Review, "‘Latinx’ Is a Stupid Word," 11 July 2019 Mercury News Comment Policy Treat everyone with respect: No personal attacks or name-calling, no rude language. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Nintendo announces $199 Switch Lite handheld video game system," 10 July 2019 In India, for instance, Spotify is now available in five different languages, according to Qvist. Michelle Toh, CNN, "Spotify launches a 'lite' version of its app for users with slow connections," 9 July 2019 The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages. Chris Harris,, "N.C. Mom Is Fatally Stabbed Days Before Her First Book's Release, as Boyfriend Is Charged," 8 July 2019 Advocates are promoting videos in multiple languages – including Spanish, Urdu and Russian – that immigrants can watch at home to prepare for the moment an immigration agent knocks on their door. Washington Post, The Denver Post, "Fear of immigration raids looms as plans for ICE “family operation” move forward," 6 July 2019 Many of the regional campuses are in predominantly Alaska Native communities, and have programs in Alaska Native languages and culture that — like all programs — will face cuts. NBC News, "Alaska fears 'brain drain' after 41 percent proposed cut to university system," 6 July 2019 Under the new plan, which the Justice Department told judges could be rolled out by mid-July, a video recorded in multiple languages would play informing immigrants of their rights and the course of the proceedings. Tal Kopan,, "Trump administration ending in-person interpreters at immigrants’ first hearings," 3 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'language.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of language

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for language

Middle English, from Anglo-French langage, from lange, langue tongue, language, from Latin lingua — more at tongue

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Statistics for language

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for language

The first known use of language was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for language



English Language Learners Definition of language

: the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other
: any one of the systems of human language that are used and understood by a particular group of people
: words of a particular kind


lan·​guage | \ ˈlaŋ-gwij How to pronounce language (audio) \

Kids Definition of language

1 : the words and expressions used and understood by a large group of people the English language
2 : spoken or written words of a particular kind She used simple and clear language.
3 : a means of expressing ideas or feelings sign language
4 : a formal system of signs and symbols that is used to carry information a computer language
5 : the special words used by a certain group or in a certain field the language of science
6 : the study of languages

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Comments on language

What made you want to look up language? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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