bi·​lin·​gual | \ (ˌ)bī-ˈliŋ-gwəl also -gyə-wəl How to pronounce bilingual (audio) \

Definition of bilingual

1 : having or expressed in two languages a bilingual document an officially bilingual nation
2 : using or able to use two languages especially with equal fluency bilingual in English and Japanese
3 : of or relating to bilingual education

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Other Words from bilingual

bilingual noun
bilingually adverb

Examples of bilingual in a Sentence

Several of the employees are bilingual. He is bilingual in English and Japanese. She grew up in a bilingual community. The town has an excellent bilingual education program.
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Recent Examples on the Web Half of the world population is bilingual, but only 25% of Americans can hold a conversation in another language. Kathleen Stein-smith, The Conversation, "7 reasons to learn a foreign language," 17 Dec. 2019 The country is officially bilingual, but the roughly 20% of people (4-5m in a country of 24m) who mainly speak English claim decades of marginalisation. The Economist, "English-speaking villages are burning in Cameroon," 7 Nov. 2019 Some regions of Spain, for example, have worked with the British Council to make public primary and secondary schools bilingual, with a third of the curriculum taught in English. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "Europe’s largest economies are falling behind in English," 5 Nov. 2019 Prior customer service experience and being bilingual in English and Spanish are a plus. Valerie Sweeten, Houston Chronicle, "Seasonal jobs offer shift options, perks," 19 Oct. 2019 The 25-year-old from Guatemala takes English classes and gets bilingual children’s books from the library to learn even more. NBC News, "Migrant caravans: Finally feeling safe, she longs for her wife and son," 10 Oct. 2019 Officials also have made an effort to hire bilingual staff and print promotional materials in Spanish. Talia Richman,, "A historically black college in Maryland is growing — by enrolling Hispanic, white and international students," 19 Sep. 2019 But Vitti acknowledged that there is more work to do in hiring bilingual school staff. Koby Levin, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit superintendent's plan to protect students could get him in trouble," 29 Aug. 2019 The administration said that bilingual staff and interpreters are on hand to help. Miriam Jordan, The Seattle Times, "More than 450 migrant parents may have been deported without their children," 24 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bilingual.' 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 bilingual

1819, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bilingual

Latin bilinguis, from bi- + lingua tongue — more at tongue

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Time Traveler for bilingual

Time Traveler

The first known use of bilingual was in 1819

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Statistics for bilingual

Last Updated

27 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Bilingual.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for bilingual


How to pronounce bilingual (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bilingual

: able to speak and understand two languages
: using or expressed in two languages


bi·​lin·​gual | \ ˌbī-ˈliŋ-gwəl How to pronounce bilingual (audio) , -gyə-wəl \

Kids Definition of bilingual

1 : using or expressed in two languages a bilingual dictionary
2 : able to speak two languages

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More from Merriam-Webster on bilingual

Spanish Central: Translation of bilingual

Nglish: Translation of bilingual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bilingual for Arabic Speakers

Comments on bilingual

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


dull or mediocre

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