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

We borrowed argot from French in the mid-1800s, although our language already had several words covering its meaning. There was jargon, which harks back to Anglo-French by way of Middle English (where it meant "twittering of birds"); it had been used for specialized (and often obscure or pretentious) vocabulary since the 1600s. There was also lingo, which had been around for almost a hundred years, and which is connected to the Latin word lingua ("language"). English novelist and lawyer Henry Fielding used it of "court gibberish" - what we tend to call legalese. In fact, the suffixal ending -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 today’s argot, Michelangelo’s ignudi are ripped. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Michelangelo’s genius revealed in ‘Mind of the Master’ at Cleveland Museum of Art," 22 Sep. 2019 This is a poem rendered in rough and rowdy seaman’s argot, about a petty officer dying in his hammock. Colin Fleming, Washington Post, "Celebrating Herman Melville, the poet," 26 Aug. 2019 Even the distinctive accent and argot of East Los Angeles has roots there, according to ethnolinguists. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, "For Mexican Americans, El Paso is a beacon. That makes racist massacre more devastating," 7 Aug. 2019 Among the war’s contributions to the American argot was that of the teetotaling secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels. Roger Lowenstein, WSJ, "‘The Great War in America’ Review: A Country at War With Itself," 21 Dec. 2018 Instead of a clubhouse on the beach, there’s a virtual global juvenile hall, where kids gather, invent an argot, adopt alter egos, and shoot one another down. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "How Fortnite Captured Teens’ Hearts and Minds," 14 May 2018 In the traditional account of this process, a creole most often arose from a pidgin: a simple, improvised argot drawing most of its words from the (usually European) languages of the masters. The Economist, "JohnsonThe painful origins of many creole languages," 1 Feb. 2018 Those unfamiliar with creoles, thinking them mere patois, argot or vernacular, are missing a glorious display of the ingenuity of those speakers who turned old languages into something brilliantly new. The Economist, "JohnsonThe painful origins of many creole languages," 1 Feb. 2018 The best of these stories double as primers on the curious, whispered rituals of the West Wing, its coded self-assertions and exclusionary argot. Katy Waldman, Slate Magazine, "This memoir by a former White House speechwriter (and joke writer) is irresistibly charming. It also feels like the setup for a grim cosmic punch line.," 29 Sep. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of argot

1842, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for argot


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Time Traveler for argot

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The first known use of argot was in 1842

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Cite this Entry

“Argot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on argot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for argot

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with argot

Spanish Central: Translation of argot

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

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