ar·​got | \ ˈär-(ˌ)gō How to pronounce argot (audio) , -gət How to pronounce argot (audio) \

Definition of argot

: 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 Every generation develops a new argot to separate itself from the one before. Kevin Fisher-paulson, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Apr. 2022 Not sentences alone but entire paragraphs as beautifully and intricately constructed as a Rube Goldberg machine, with cliché backing into argot flirting with Broadway slang, Yiddish and British pretension side by side. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 24 Aug. 2021 Calvin Kasulke’s Several People Are Typing, which is told entirely in Slack chats, so perfectly captured the specific argot of that medium, and went so far with its bizarro premise but managed to deliver. ELLE, 17 Mar. 2022 Her speech—casual, chatty—is inflected with the argot of the Washington policy circuit. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 28 Jan. 2022 Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (or JCPOA, in the argot) was a disastrous move that has put Iran within disturbingly close range of becoming a nuclear power. Michael A. Cohen, The New Republic, 25 Jan. 2022 While these long motion-capture sequences crackle with thrilling technical argot and are pretty interesting in themselves, the real plot lies elsewhere. Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2021 In the argot of Communist politics, the session that began on November 8th is the sixth plenum of the Nineteenth Central Committee. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 10 Nov. 2021 In the United States, basic mental-health care remains a luxury item; there’s a reason that the most fluent speakers of the trending argot tend to be wealthy and white. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 26 Mar. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of argot

1825, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for argot


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Last Updated

15 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Argot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on argot

Nglish: Translation of argot for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about argot


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