col·​lo·​qui·​al | \ kə-ˈlō-kwē-əl How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \

Definition of colloquial

1a : used in or characteristic of familiar and informal conversation In colloquial English, "kind of" is often used for "somewhat" or "rather." also : unacceptably informal
b : using conversational style a colloquial writer
2 : of or relating to conversation : conversational colloquial expressions

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from colloquial

colloquial noun
colloquiality \ kə-​ˌlō-​kwē-​ˈa-​lə-​tē How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \ noun
colloquially \ kə-​ˈlō-​kwē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \ adverb

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.

Examples of colloquial in a Sentence

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 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 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 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 the new coworker's rudeness soon began—to use a colloquial expression—to rub me the wrong way a colloquial essay on what makes a marriage successful
See More
Recent Examples on the Web As India braces for the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, some Indians have come up with a jugaad—the colloquial term for a hack—that might prove to be a menace for the country. Niharika Sharma, Quartz, "The Covid-19 jugaad: Indians are using fake reports to travel and skip exams," 8 Apr. 2021 But like most of us, Kor Tor Mor — a colloquial abbreviation of Bangkok’s full Thai name, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon — has trudged forward., "3 places we supported this week," 6 Apr. 2021 Try to find both the formal words and colloquial ones. Israa Nasir, SELF, "8 Tips for Talking About Mental Health With Your Asian Family," 2 Apr. 2021 The cast of characters proves usefully broad; of the book’s dozen perspectives, each rendered in a colloquial free-indirect style, seven are female and five male, with a span of ages from small child to pensioner. Leo Robson, The New Yorker, "In Sarah Moss’s Fiction, There’s No Holiday from History," 15 Mar. 2021 Bennett, the son of immigrants from California who speaks colloquial English almost as flawlessly as Netanyahu, is a hard-liner on Palestinian and religious issues and known for divisive rhetoric. Washington Post, "As Israelis head back to elections, there’s a new twist: Democrats in Washington," 16 Mar. 2021 Aileen Clayton, a young middle-class Englishwoman, had a grasp of colloquial German that enabled her, when the war began, to intercept and report on the radio communications of German air crews for the RAF. John R. Ferris, WSJ, "Five Best: Books on British Intelligence at Work," 12 Mar. 2021 This invention is an anthropomorphic omniscient narrator—or, to be more colloquial, a story told by someone with a human heart and a god’s all-seeing eye. Angus Fletcher, Smithsonian Magazine, "Eight of Literature’s Most Powerful Inventions—and the Neuroscience Behind How They Work," 10 Mar. 2021 The phrase The Firm is a colloquial (albeit cynical) term used to describe the royal family. Paulina Jayne Isaac, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Says the Royal Family Played a Role in ‘Perpetuating Falsehoods’ About Her," 4 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of colloquial

1751, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for colloquial

see colloquy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about colloquial

Time Traveler for colloquial

Time Traveler

The first known use of colloquial was in 1751

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about colloquial

Statistics for colloquial

Last Updated

17 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Colloquial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for colloquial



English Language Learners Definition of colloquial

: used when people are speaking in an informal way
: using an informal style


col·​lo·​qui·​al | \ kə-ˈlō-kwē-əl How to pronounce colloquial (audio) \

Kids Definition of colloquial

: used in or suited to familiar and informal conversation colloquial language

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on colloquial

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!