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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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 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, "The Rise of Therapy-Speak," 26 Mar. 2021 The problem with that, of course, is that unpredictability — what is rather grandly known in the sport’s argot as competitive balance — is at least part of the secret of soccer’s appeal. New York Times, "Outrage About European Super League Is Muffled by Our Cheers," 18 Apr. 2021 Yet the quant argot is useful when considering perhaps the biggest fear stalking financial markets: a sustained rise in inflation that would be bad for both equities and bonds. The Economist, "Why people are worried about the bond-equity relationship," 6 Mar. 2021 One hundred percent green, in Kirby’s argot, means carbon neutrality with a twist. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "The Weekly Planet: United Wants to Have Its Carbon and Eat It Too," 15 Dec. 2020 Something of a dandy, Toby runs a rough assortment of helpers—babysitters and pavement artists, in the argot of the trade. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "John le Carré Missed Nothing," 14 Dec. 2020 Cobbs’s career encapsulates the shift of sensitivity training from its literary roots to corporate argot. Beth Blum, The New Yorker, "The Radical History of Corporate Sensitivity Training," 24 Sep. 2020 And then there’s his inborn ear for every shade of human babble, here a transcendent four-hander, there a screwball travelogue, everywhere argot and idiolect and argument. New York Times, "What if, Instead of the Internet, We Had Xenobots?," 23 Apr. 2020 The term is an example of a curious upstairs-downstairs argot in what is at its core a working-class sport. Michael Powell, New York Times, "At Tour de France, Rules of the Road Are Often Unspoken," 25 July 2019

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

1825, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for argot


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Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Argot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on argot

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for argot

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

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