adjective col·lo·qui·al \kə-ˈlō-kwē-əl\

Definition of colloquial

  1. 1 :  of or relating to conversation :  conversational <colloquial expressions>

  2. 2a :  used in or characteristic of familiar and informal conversation <In colloquial English, “kind of” is often used for “somewhat” or “rather.”>; also :  unacceptably informalb :  using conversational style <a colloquial writer>




play \-ˌlō-kwē-ˈa-lə-tē\ noun


play \-ˈlō-kwē-ə-lē\ adverb

Examples of colloquial in a sentence

  1. But I think part of this pickle that we're in—if I may be colloquial, even though I'm not running for office—is that we've lost their sense of responsibility. —Sarah Vowell, Entertainment Weekly, 24 Oct. 2008

  2. Langston was the merriest and the most colloquial of them all. “Best party I've ever been given!” he said. —Gwendolyn Brooks, Booklist, 15 Oct. 1993

  3. Mr. Salisbury's firsthand account is written in a fast-paced, chaotic and colloquial style, which often feels confused and hastily set down. —Susan Shapiro, New York Times Book Review, 10 Sept. 1989

  4. Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of words. —Thomas Jefferson, letter, 2 Jan. 1814

  5. <the new coworker's rudeness soon began—to use a colloquial expression—to rub me the wrong way>

  6. <a colloquial essay on what makes a marriage successful>

Did You Know?

The noun colloquy was first used in English to refer to a conversation or dialogue, and when the adjective colloquial was formed from colloquy it had a similar focus. Over time, however, colloquial developed a more specific meaning related to language that is most suited to informal conversation - and it ultimately garnered an additional, disparaging implication of a style that seems too informal for a situation. Colloquy and colloquial trace back to the Latin verb colloqui, meaning "to converse." Colloqui in turn was formed by combining the prefix com- and loqui, "to speak." Other conversational descendants of loqui in English include "circumlocution," eloquent, loquacious, soliloquy, and ventriloquism.

Origin and Etymology of colloquial

see colloquy

First Known Use: 1751

Other Language Terms

COLLOQUIAL Defined for English Language Learners


adjective col·lo·qui·al \kə-ˈlō-kwē-əl\

Definition of colloquial for English Language Learners

  • : used when people are speaking in an informal way

  • : using an informal style

COLLOQUIAL Defined for Kids


adjective col·lo·qui·al \kə-ˈlō-kwē-əl\

Definition of colloquial for Students

  1. :  used in or suited to familiar and informal conversation <colloquial language>

Seen and Heard

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


to handle or deal with in a skillful way

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