: the language used by a particular type or group of people : an often more or less secret vocabulary and idiom peculiar to a particular group
He has been bombarded by thousands of scathing messages—known as being "flamed" in the argot of cyberspace.Peter H. Lewis

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We borrowed argot from French in the early 1800s, although our language already had several words covering its meaning. There was jargon, the Anglo-French ancestor of which meant "twittering of birds"; it had been used for specialized (and often obscure or pretentious) vocabulary since the 1600s. There was also lingo, from the Latin word lingua, meaning "language"; that term had been in use for more than a century. English novelist and lawyer Henry Fielding used it of "court gibberish"—what we tend to call legalese. And speaking of legalese, the suffix -ese is a newer means of indicating arcane vocabulary. One of its very first applications at the turn of the 20th century was for "American 'golfese.'"

Examples of argot in a Sentence

groups communicating in their own secret argots used the argot of figure skaters
Recent Examples on the Web In an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, How to Say Babylon, poet Safiya Sinclair recounts her upbringing in Jamaica—a life under livity, to use the argot of her parents’ adoptive Rastafarian tradition. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 1 Aug. 2023 These are the argot of the trade for just about any statesman or practitioner of diplomacy, politics, and business. Foreign Affairs, 19 Aug. 2022 In the argot of the credit bureaus, tradelines are just another word for all the accounts listed on a credit report — credit cards, loans and mortgages are all tradelines. Mya Frazier, New York Times, 7 June 2023 Step by audacious step Joe Kennedy—part trimmer (in the argot of Old Boston) and part striver (in the manner portrayed in countless American success stories)—worked his way up, not always scrupulously: small-town banker, Wall Street financier, Hollywood film entrepreneur. David M. Shribman, WSJ, 16 July 2021 Melding the argots of Silicon Valley and self-care, Joyous delivers treatment primarily by text message, replete with exclamation points and emojis. Chris Hamby, New York Times, 20 Feb. 2023 Don’t be dazed by the case’s technical argot. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 5 Apr. 2021 But even here — under a tangle of rope and lace, designed by Rajha Shakiry, that seems to literalize the World Wide Web — the argot of social media invades. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 13 Jan. 2023 Characters speak in modern slang, Shakespearean verse, ’80s pop lyrics and that timeless argot of clumsy melodrama. Charles McNultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 9 Dec. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'argot.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



First Known Use

1825, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of argot was in 1825


Dictionary Entries Near argot

Cite this Entry

“Argot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ar·​got ˈär-gət How to pronounce argot (audio) -gō How to pronounce argot (audio)
: a more or less private vocabulary used by a particular class or group

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